If My Kids Were Trapped And Screaming On A School Bus, I Would Have Freaked Out, Too
Parents in Worcester, New York got into a confrontation with their children’s school bus driver after the driver closed the bus door and refused to let kids off. Police are investigating what led to the driver’s actions, which caused children on the bus to panic, screaming and crying for their parents before the adults at the bus stop finally got them off through the emergency exit.
A 10 minute long cell phone video of the incident taken by one of the parents was provided to Mass Live. In it, you can hear the parents of the Quinsigamond Elementary School students yelling at the driver to let their kids off while the kids are seen on the bus crying and complaining of the heat.
Toward the end of the video, the bus starts moving forward. At that point, the parents understandably panicked, thinking the driver was trying to leave with their kids. Some parents ran to stand in front of the bus to prevent it from leaving. The children, too, started panicking, and that’s when parents decided to get all of the kid off the bus through the emergency exit. Police and school officials arrived soon afterwards.
There is a great deal of confusion over what exactly the driver was thinking, but we are getting some more insight from the school department, which said in a statement:
The driver was attempting to ensure that kindergarten students were matched with the proper parent before releasing them from the school bus. Parents became impatient and insisted that the driver release all the students immediately. When the driver refused, one or more parents started to enter the school bus. The driver informed them that adults are not allowed on the school bus with students on board. They refused to leave and the driver was instructed by the Durham supervisor to close the entrance door. Parents broke the door and entered the school bus.
Superintendent of Schools, Melissa Boone, says that when parents started boarding the bus, the driver closed the door “…with the idea of stabilizing the situation” and then radioed for assistance. It appears she may have been waiting for help to arrive before opening the door to the bus. A spokesman for the city’s school bus contractor explained the role of a driver in these situations. In an email to the Telegram, she said:
Our bus drivers are highly trained, receiving both in-classroom training and behind-the-wheel experience, and are always in contact with dispatch should an emergency occur. In such an event, the bus driver’s responsibility is to take measures to keep our riders calm and safe. This includes reporting the incident to dispatch, who will alert the appropriate authorities if necessary.”
The same driver delayed allowing the children off the bus the day before, but for a much shorter amount of time. Parents believed that that delay was due to a new policy which asks that kindergartners be let off the buses before older kids. But regardless of the policies, no one can watch that video and listen to those children screaming without knowing that this was not handled the right way. We can all get behind the fact that the driver wanted to do things the right way and make sure the right kids got to the right parents, but to shut the doors and ignore the children who are clearly panicking on her bus? These little elementary school kids were terrified that she was trying to keep them away from their parents. Maybe a conversation needed to take place with the parents and the kids about what you were doing and why? Or maybe a better, quicker system had to be developed? Something other than closing up the bus and holding children hostage.
While the children exited, the driver was punched in the face by a 16-year-old girl who boarded the bus shortly before the police arrived. The girl will be charged with assault and battery. It is unknown yet whether or not the driver will face any punishment.