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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — News that a South Brunswick Middle School student was cut on the eyelid by a student with nail clippers on a school bus is not the first incident involving Brunswick County buses that’s made the news in the past week. Some parents are worried it won’t be the last.

In addition to the student injured Friday, we told you last week about the five-year-old dropped off at the wrong stop and left to roam around behind the Walmart in Leland.

One parent we talked with today says there is a larger root problem, and she wants it handled before it goes too far.

“I don’t want some stranger that’s not even educated to be around children driving my children to and from school,” Amanda Faatz said. “That scares me.”

Faatz says Brunswick County Schools can’t get their act together when it comes to school buses. Since the beginning of the school year, her kids have had four different bus drivers… Monday, the bus didn’t show up at all.

Faatz says drivers have told her two boys to shut up, cursed at them, and told student they were not allowed to open the windows on hot days. And that, she says, is just the beginning of the problems.

“They have been early, way early. Earlier than what I was told to be out there. And they have been late. Later than what I was told to be out there. I’ve missed the bus with the kids. And they’ve come home over the past week not comfortable with the bus drivers anymore,” Faatz said.

The Brunswick County school system says it will not stand for any more issues involving their buses. District spokeswoman Jessica Swencki says if parents have any issues, they need to contact administrators so they can look into things.

“Because we do have standard that we want to run every route, every day with perfection,” Swencki said. “We are going to continue to examine our practices. We are going to continue to vigilantly investigate any claim or any concern of any parent has.”

Faatz says something needs to be done, and soon, because she does not want things to get out of hand like the other situations in the last week.

Faatz says she thinks the problems may have something to do with the new staggered start times for brunswick county schools. Swencki says the new schedule has allowed the school system to hire more people, and she does not think this is the problem.


“Brunswick County Schools transport seven thousand students twice a day for one hundred eighty days. The margin for error is zero. We must execute every run, every day, with perfection.” Edward H. Pruden, Ed.D., Superintendent

We depend on our transportation staff to adhere to all safety procedures and consistently apply good judgment. Over the past week, school officials have actively investigated two serious school bus incidents, one involving a kindergarten student from Town Creek Elementary and the most recent involving a South Brunswick Middle School student.

The investigations into each incident have concluded. Brunswick County school officials have taken the following actions:

Town Creek Elementary bus driver Christopher Graham (date of hire September 20, 2004) and South Brunswick Middle bus driver Johnny Hooten (date of hire September 7, 2010) were both suspended without pay for two weeks effective September 19, 2011. Both employees are required to complete additional training prior to reinstatement. Training will be done in conjunction with a representative of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Brunswick County Schools transportation department.

In light of the recent incidents Brunswick County transportation officials will petition the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction for a comprehensive review of our training program. Additionally, elementary principals have been asked to assign a teacher or teacher assistant to partner or buddy with each bus driver in the identification of each child rider on a daily basis.

Jessica B. Swencki
Director of Quality Assurance and Community Engagement

Comment on this Story

  • 1234 Guest

    When I moved here from the city to a small town I thought my child would be safe, being a single parent to two children, which my children never rode the bus before. Was very shock that the high school and middles schools share the same bus, last year my son would never ride the bus home, thank god we lived about 1 mile from the school.he and 1/2 the 7th-8th grade would walk home.due to the driver allowing the name calling, bulling and volgure words to be said everyday, let alone, the pushing and shoving of the high school children. Drunk driver, children that are in need of aid, dropping very young children off at the wrong location..this one is the one that upsets me the most in this day and age thank God the child was ok. I have been told over and over my childs bus drive is rude, cruse, and lets them do anything they wont this year. And if you call the schools you never get a call back.

  • oldcoot

    I have another concern, myself. We are not talking about a small child here, we have in this school district a middle school child who is not aware of the harm toe nail clippers can do, whether in his hands or someone else’s. Furthermore, he does not seem to know how easily an eye can be hurt. Neither does his ‘friend,’ so we have not one this bad off in their developmental behavior progression. Perhaps, instead of momma shouting to the roof top, she might need to spend a little more time informing her son of the evils of the world. Fire burns, glass cuts, etc. Or perhaps she is like so many other parents these days who raise children who believe that no matter what they choose to do, the parent will get them out of it, make it go away. Had that bus driver dropped him out with his eye falling out on his cheek, it would be one thing. The kid apparently doesn’t know or can’t remember when his mother is home, either. She needs to give him her schedule and tape it to his chest. Now the driver is taught his lesson, no job and no money (nobody drives a bus because they love children and it is an easy job), but Jr. is still out there on the bus with people who can do him harm and a mother that may or may not be there at home when he thinks she is. If the driver had been distracted while these two bozos were playing with the clippers and there had been an accident, the fur would have flown. Bus drivers, hear me. When there is a disruption of ANY kind or when there is so much as a hangnail on ANY passenger. STOP! CALL 911 and wait, no matter HOW long it takes to get those little kiddies home safely, if they have to do an emergency appendectomy. Let them complain about that. And when these darlings get to the high school with such shenanigans as they pulled on this bus, somebody (a student, NOT a bus driver) will help them grow up fast – and probably any parent who wants to complain. The last thing I would want would be a parent volunteer on the bus – something that won’t begin to happen anyway. They want you to take kids, handle all problems without bothering them. THEY are busy working. Teachers just babysit all day anyway. Surprises me how many think that way these days. Meanwhile, I’ll just go on worrying about almost grown children who don’t know any better than to play with toe nail clippers around somebody’s eyes. Maybe they shouldn’t be on a bus at all, but picked up and taken home so they can’t hurt themselves. You can’t fix stupid.

  • Guest2315

    What all fail to realize is the beauracracy that rules Brunswick County Schools, or more namely all those that are incapable of educating the kids in the buildings so they are moved into the central office and made directors, are the ones that set these employees and children up for failure. One director failed to plan provisionally for snags in this plan he just said “of course dual routes save a million dollars, I am Super Director I can make it happen,” with little to no thought on the logistics. Another sends an e mail that instructs schools, “we cannot see beyond the doors of the homes” no matter what age lets put them out, hey we arent the village right they arent our responsibility. Yet another, with every other news article or comment is quoting exactly why you should have faith in us. Rest assured that position is not saving tax payers one hundred thousand dollars. |

    Granted things need to change, but it doesnt need to start with the bus drivers. They are simply pawns and being made examples of. In fact their discipline has been published for all to see. Do we really think if a central office employee had messed up, or has messed up and it would be acceptable to publish their discipline. It would be an outrage, and not only is it bordering on illegal it once again illustrates the dispairity among the haves and have nots.

    Emergency meetings, cabinet discussions, all the what we will do with buddys and headbands. Why not take more interest in the people with your children everyday, those teaching, serving the lunches, taking them back and forth to school. If the administration of BCS took more interest in the people doing the work and less on the people who tell those people how to do it our students and employees would surely benefit.

    By the wayside I dont recall the disciplinary actions of a Board Member’s Niece caught with drugs, or a former administrator who said innappropriate comments to an empoyee being published. Something to ponder……..

  • Guest 222

    Be assured that driving a bus and monitoring a bus load of students at the same time is next to impossible. This is the true root of the problem. I do not believe that there will be a lot of improvement unless there is a way to place another adult on the buses. How is that possible with the shortage of funds the school system is experiencing???? Possible parent/community volunteers????

  • Me

    The bus driver either need to be trained more or have a extra person riding the bus to help them out. The buses just seem to get worse and worse . I mean in the last few years alone , high school bus my daughter rides the bus had a can with urine in rolling around one year , then last year they had a girl giving a boy oral sex in the back of the bus the buses are not safe and its like no one cares every time I call the school board they always say they will look into it but nothing is never done . I cant take my kids to school because I have 4 kids that ride 4 different buses so I have no choice but to let them ride the buses . You would think sending them to school they would be in a safe place , but not anymore. The kids dont care if there are camera on the bus . They know they are only looked at if there is a big problem and half the time they dont even look at them then .

  • Guest brer rabbit

    that’s so awesome that someone else noticed!
    it sounds like uncle remus’ wife is leaving those messages

  • wow

    Quite distrubing and little insulting; although the bus drivers maybe a stranger to students, what makes someone say they’re uneduated. I’m sure that if they haven’t gone to a 2-4yr univerisity they have some education whether it’s a GED or high school diploma.

  • Shirrell Golden

    We had problems with the bus as well in the beginning of the year. We live 4 miles from the school and was told that riding the bus “is a privilige” and we should be thankful we have buses. Are you kidding me????

    He also stated that there are many problems with the buses arriving on time because of unforseen and uncovered abscences by the drivers. Since the start of the year, the bus has come at 7:41, 8:09,7:57, 7:39, 8:04 and various other times. We were told our child was to be picked up at 8:05. When the school implemented its new “staggared” start times, we had been dogged with many recorded phone messages to make sure our children were at their appropriate stops at the new time to make the transition run smoothly. What a joke that turned out to be.

    When the law states that any student that lives beyond 1.5 miles is to be bussed to school, I don’t see where this is deemed to be a “privilige”. We have no sidewalks and live on one of the most dangerous roads in the county. There have been many accidents and fatalities on our road and I would never, ever put my child in harms way by making her walk to school and risk being hurt or killed. What kind of privilige is that? Thankful that my child isn’t killed and has to wait for whomever to show up when they feel like it?

    I shudder to think that these people are responsible for my childs education.

  • david billings

    my grandaughters bus# 286 had so many kids on it yesterday evening they were sitting on each others lap . one student was cutting the others eyebrows with nail clippers and cut his eye lid ,D o we not have enough money in brunswick co to run more busses for our kids safty

  • Guest14

    The cause of this is having too many different drivers running these bus routes. The school system has cut overtime for their teacher assistants, so the same drivers can’t drive buses everyday. These things will continue to happen because with different drivers daily there will be no consistency. They have cut the pay of almost all assistants while they screw up the transportation of the students while they enjoy the same pay they have always had. Maybe with the money they save they can hire someone who can speak English to make their automated calls to parents.

  • Guest2020

    I don’t think the incidents are equal and therefore should not have required equal punishment. On one hand you have a bus driver who is fully responsible for the child being let off at the wrong location. On the other hand you have an act of violence perpetrated by one of the students on the bus while the driver is driving. I just don’t see the equality in the two situations.

    I am glad that my situation allows my husband and me to provide transportation to and from school for my children.

  • Guest340

    Providing your own child’s transportation to and from school is exactly what all concerned parents should do.

  • Guest348

    The issue with the boy with the nail clippers and the idiot bus driver was that the bus driver dropped the child off a ways down the road from his house 30 minutes after picking him up in the morning. The child was bleeding from his eye and required emergency assistance. Yet the bus driver did not call anyone or do anything, just left him in the middle of town to walk home. Very irresponsible. The boy that hurt him did so on accident.

  • Guest11221

    How much is a title like that worth(Director of Quality Assurance and Community Engagement)? It sounds expensive. What the hell kind of job is this? At a time when so many people are hurting, school schedules are getting staggered to save money, etc. etc. Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians!!

  • Guest2020

    Not all parents are able to because of their work schedules. And things are even worse with the changes in the school schedule.

  • anne

    Not necessarily. My daughter graduated in 2000. Before that, there was trouble on the buses even then. The problem was – nothing was ever said to the parents. The only way we found out was if a child told someone. On the bus that my daughter rode, there was a sexual assault in the back of the bus. The only reason I found out was that a friend of ours at the time was a police officer and he told us. When I and several other parents went to the principal we were told that it wasn’t up for discussion because of privacy issues. Needless to say that bus was a few students short after that.The said thing was there were parents who never knew what had happened. And that bus driver was one of the best that they had. She could not control what went on at the back of the bus.

    A response to your remark about being unruly. I have been involved in the schools for many years as a volunteer and I have seen up close some of the people that are driving buses. There are some very good ones, but there are some who have no business driving. They are rude and seemingly unconcerned, so just because the kids get yelled at doesn’t mean they are unruly. The bus driver may just have a rude attitude.

    And yes, buses can be late, but your remark about her taking her kids to school is okay BUT, what if she had not been out there with her children to know the bus was late or didn’t show up? They would have been out there for how long because a bus didn’t show up or can’t get on a timely schedule. Taxpayers pay for the buses and we expect them to run as they should barring any extra problems.

    Any problems with buses should be reported and any problems with the drivers need to be investigated. Yes children can be children and they can cause problems, but it is not always them. Believe me, I have seen it and heard it all, the bus driver can be the problem. If you don’t believe it, volunteer at a school and watch the teachers and assistants (who often drive the buses) and watch the attitudes and behavior. Your eyes might be opened! There are many good ones but there are exceptions to it.

  • david billings

    thats what hey want you to do drive them so they want have run busses everyone cant drive they . they took most all busses with air cond off when they cut busses why not cut air off in the offices

  • Guest666

    From some accounts, I understand that school busses are little more than war zones on wheels. No wonder Ms. Faatz’s boys have had a large turnover in bus drivers. If they were told to shut up, that tells me they are unruly. Then, the bus didn’t show up???? She needs to drive them to school.

  • Guest6381

    Schools were never meant to be babysitting or child care services. Make sure you take all your deductions when tax time rolls around.

  • grnppls

    The new schedule is the cause for most of the issues. Not only do I have to pay for child care after school for me to go to work but now I have to pay for child care before work! That surely is not saving me any money!

  • grnppls

    I AGREE! The new schedule is the cause for all of this!

  • Guest627

    The staggered school schedule has caused problems in Brunswick County. It is unsafe for kids to be getting on the bus so early and when the time changes, kids will be getting off the bus when it is dark. Local Dr’s offices are staying open later, so kids don’t have to leave school early. Kids have to be left home ALONE to get on the bus, because most parents that work an 8-5 job have to be to work on time. I could list more but who has the time. Brunswick county schools need to get it together and start thinking about the kids safety not about a $.

  • Guest43

    Nobody has asked why this child had nail clippers at school? Depending on the type of clippers, they could be considered a weapon by most schools. Does this child’s nails grow so fast that he needs to clip them throughout the day? These clippers should have been at home. You go to school to learn, not listen and clip your nails while the teacher instructs.

  • Du

    I had initially agreed with the new, single bus, different times idea that was supposed to save money. With the schools starting earlier, I assumed it would allow me more time for my commute to work. However, starting 15 minutes earlier has resulted in the bus coming up to 30 minutes later, with students often getting to school late, without the opportunity for breakfast. And, as many others have experienced, the bus driver has been changed. And for those travelling to Wilmington, the new schedule has added the burden of extra traffic around the time most people are supposed to get to work. Bring back the old schedule!!!

  • Guest091869

    I wonder what a school bus driver is paid. I imagine that it isn’t very much….$7.25 or whatever minimum wage is.
    You get what you pay for…low wages =lowlifes. If we want respectable, caring mature people transporting children pay them a good wage.
    No, I am not a bus driver or even know a driver but I do know that they are not paid well.

  • wow

    A bus driver has a love for kids, to do their best as any other individual in this world. There are caring respectable, caring mature people transporting children. Why does someone have to be lowlifes cause of low wages there are some high paying professions that act like lowlifes or they have no compassion for those that aren’t on their level or their pockets don’t run that deep

  • ssmith

    Please read following comment:This is beside the issues we are having but……….

    Swencki says “the new schedule has allowed the school system to hire more people, and she does not think this is the problem.”
    I thought we went on this new schedule, (that has interrupted everyone’s family life), was to save money. Now you are saying you have hired more drivers, why change then. Don’t make sense to me.

  • schoolmommy

    True more people have been hired, but it in no way compares to the reduction in income for most of the teacher assistants that use to drive the buses. Experience can far outweigh, how much education a person has. Basically Bus drivers are trained to operate the school bus,”period.”, none of the training involves scenarios or situations where you would have to have an early childhood degree or what have you for the particular population you are driving for. Let’s pray the impact of the decisions made by a few result in any type of tragic situations. It’s ok to admit you made a mistake, ask forgiveness and go back to what works!

  • mark hooten

    only an idiot would call some one eles an idiot if they did not know the whole story of waht really went on that morning.


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