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Brunswick County bus driver suspended after turning bus around, failing to notify officials

READ MORE: Brunswick County bus driver suspended after turning bus around, failing to notify officials
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY (WWAY) -- It's yet another incident with a school bus in Brunswick County. This time, a bus driver is suspended after turning the bus around and not returning students home until 6 p.m.

"For 20 minutes the Brunswick County school system had no idea where this school bus was or where it was going," said Leigh Ann Collins, a mother of a student on the bus.

The mother of a student at South Brunswick Middle School says she's just the latest in a string of parents to have issues with school district bus drivers. She says last Thursday her son was on his way home, when he sent her a text message saying the bus had turned around, but he did not know why.

Collins tried to contact someone from the school district, but she had no luck.

"During an emergency situation with the bus when no one knows where it's going, there's almost no one to get a hold of to find out what's happening," Collins said.

Eventually her son let her know that the bus driver had driven them back to campus, but said the driver then allowed an irate parent to come on the bus and pick up her child.

"Next time the person he lets on the bus may not be a parent," Collins said. "Next time that parent may be so upset that they don't just scream and cuss."

Brunswick County Schools spokeswoman Jessica Swencki said the bus driver was suspended for 3.5 days with pay, in which time he received additional training. Collins says that's not good enough. She says what's most upsetting is that the school district is putting employee protocol before the safety of kids.

"If he worked anywhere else and made mistakes like he has made, he would be fired," Collins said.

The spokeswoman also says the bus driver was wrong in not notifying school officials that he had turned the bus around.

Last month a student from the same school was cut on his eyelid with nail clippers by another student on a school bus, and a week before that a child from Town Creek Elementary was put on the wrong bus and dropped off at a bus stop behind the Leland Walmart.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Irate parents..take notice!!

Would it be possible for some of these irate parents to take a bus driving course, past the test, and drive a bus for at least one month with 40 to 60 out of controls kids? I seriously doubt most of you would get beyond the written test, let alone the driving test.

Whether you parents realize it or not 90% of the kids today are not taught respect. They are not told to respect their teachers, bus drivers, or anyone who tries to discipline them in any way. THAT IS WHY THEY ARE OUT OF CONTROL!!! I have been in classrooms at school and listen to teachers tell kids over and over again to do simple tasks and they do not listen. So parents put yourself in the teacher's and bus driver's shoes. What would you do if you were the sole person in charge of 40 to 60 kids and only 10% of them would listen when you spoke? How would you handle them? My guess is that if you were a bus driver, you would probably be turning around and taking them back to school more often than not.

I drove a school bus for two years when I was in high school (in the old days...I was 16 years old). Back then students were taught if they misbehaved at school or on the bus they would get a spanking (no questions asked) when they got home. My parents raised 6 kids, and not one time did they ever complain about a teacher or bus driver. Why? Because we knew better than to ever give them a reason to. Wouldn't it be nice if some of these young parents would sit down with a grandparent or someone from the past to take a few lessons on parenting?

Moral of this story...Parents for every finger you point at a teacher or bus driver, there are five pointing back at you!!!

BCS Response to Story

In reviewing the story, "Brunswick County bus driver suspended after turning bus around, failing to notify officials," we feel it is important to respond to comments made during the interview with Leigh Ann Collins.

Collins tried to contact someone from the school district, but she had no luck. "During an emergency situation with the bus when no one knows where it's going, there's almost no one to get a hold of to find out what's happening," Collins said.

On the afternoon of Thursday, October 6, Ms. Collins placed a call to the Brunswick County transportation department and spoke directly with school officials. It was during this conversation that Ms. Collins was made aware of the GPS tracking system on her son's bus and was notified the bus had turned around and was returning to the school.

Immediately following this phone call transportation officials drove to South Brunswick Middle School to meet the bus, speak with school administration, and begin an active investigation. Transportation officials also spoke directly with concerned parents both on the bus lot and via cell phone.

An additional driver was placed on the bus last Thursday afternoon as a monitor while the route was completed.

"For 20 minutes the Brunswick County school system had no idea where this school bus was or where it was going," said Leigh Ann Collins, a mother of a student on the bus.

The entire fleet of Brunswick County school buses are equipped with state of the art LIVE GPS tracking. At any given moment transportation and school officials can monitor the location of any bus in the system.

Brunswick County school bus drivers are responsible for the safety of students on their buses. In situations where a driver believes that student conduct may be compromising the safety of students, drivers have the authority to return the bus to the school, stop the bus and call for assistance from school officials and/or law enforcement, or drive the bus to the closest law enforcement center.

Protocol requires drivers who feel it necessary to take one of these actions to contact the school and/or transportation officials.

Brunswick County transports 7,000 students daily on 128 buses. Safety is our top priority. We recognize the margin for error is zero and we remain vigilant in our efforts to respond swiftly when situations occur to undermine public trust.

While we appreciate and support the rights of citizens to air their grievances we also believe that accuracy and truth are reasonable expectations for all parties concerned, including the school system.

Respectfully,

Jessica B. Swencki
Brunswick County Schools

Accuracy

I have made every effort to maintain accuracy in my accounting of the events. I have made everyone aware that there is GPS tracking on the buses and stated that in the interview. I however had no control over how much of the information I provided to WWAY would be included in their coverage.
If my accounting of the events is incorrect I welcome any clarification you could provide since all I received from the Director of Human Resources was various references to privacy laws and regulations preventing her from giving me any details about what occurred on the bus and how it was handled other than to say that the bus driver was suspended with pay, received additional training and must be given the opportunity to correct his mistakes.
The Superintendent still has not returned my phone call, neither has the director of transportation. No one other than the human resources director was in the office Thursday when I drove to the BOE to speak with someone. The only people that I have been able to maintain contact with, have been the principal, and assistant principal at SBMS and they have handled my concerns to the best of their ability so far as the BOE allows them to. If you would like accuracy to be a priority you first must provide access to the information necessary to achieve it.
Yes, we were able to speak with someone once the bus was back on the lot at the school. We were one of the parents on the cell phone but it still does not excuse the fact that we had to wait for someone to arrive in person to get any information.
I have asked two school district employees if they would be comfortable with their children riding this bus, one said he would not answer that question as an employee of the school, the other stumbled all over herself stuttering and would only say she thought the bus driver did not intend any malice. I have yet to find someone who would say yes they would be comfortable with their children being on this bus. Would you care to be the first?
I also notice that you did not address any procedure regarding unauthorized people being on the bus. Since we are aiming at accuracy, exactly what are the specific consequences regarding infractions committed by bus drivers? They are laid out on paper and sent home at the beginning of every year for the students. I would like to see a copy for the bus drivers.
Lastly, your response is very similar to the last response made regarding a bus incident. If the margin for error is zero, why is it that this was ever allowed to happen? Why was it not treated as a serious situation? Why was the bus driver re-instated, why was he paid while on suspension?

Respectfully,
Leigh Ann Collins

suggestion

Add a new county fee only charged to people who have children in school and riding buses to cover the cost of having an armed police officer on every bus.
This will solve a lot of problems.

OMG finally!! Do you know

OMG finally!! Do you know how many times I have been to the school about the buses? Know what happens when you complain??? NOTHING!Incident #1 a couple years ago a Bolivia Elementary bus stopped at my house to let my child off who was in 3rd grade and several older students got off at my house that I didnt know. When I questioned my son he said oh she picked those kids up at the end of our road off another bus the one boy was fighting with her and she made him get off. Those two highschool boys walked down our road which is in the country with no houses around, so I called to see what was up with that, come to find out it was her son whom was going to the remedial school that she got off the remedial bus because he was acting up. Once he got on the elementary bus he was screaming and cussing at his mom the bus driver so she kicked him off. Nothing was done about that situation............... Then last year the bus driver not only ate , drank, had bursts of road rage but threatened the kids with jail for telling on her.. so I had my little meeting nothing happened I walked out on them. THANK YOU WWAY for exposing the crazy and I do mean crazy anticts of the Brun County School Busing System...ok and for all you who will come back with but oh try putting up with those kids and being sane... You chose the job it didnt choose you!

Buses

I don't know what is going on in Brunswick County with the buses this year but it has been nothing but a problem. Our bus shows up late and when you call the school they back up the bus driver, not even concerend about the children getting to school late. And, what good is it to give someone off WITH PAY? What do you think the kids that ride that bus are going to do when he comes back? I don't know where some of these drivers came from this year, but I can speak for my kids bus...nothing but problems! And school, get it through your head we pay for these buses it is not a privledge as I was told by Shallotte Middle. I was also told bus overloaded...then I get a note they want to put my daughter off for a piece of gum. Give me a break!

West Brunswick

They need to look into a bus driver at West Brunswick, who left the bus and the students in the hands of a stranger.

This is the same bus driver

This is the same bus driver that slapped my 13 year old daughter and the school didnt feel the need to do anything about him.....

Full of it

You are full of it .. either that or she sure deserved it...

I can tell you one thing, if

I can tell you one thing, if that was my daughter that had been slapped by a bus driver, the school would not have had to worry about deciding if they needed to do anything. I would have gone to his house and taken care of him myself, the we would see if a jury of my peers would convict me. If this really happened, what is happening to our world folks when an adult can slap a 13 year old child and get away with it? If the law would not handle it I promise I would.

WoW! You're a big, tough guy aren'tcha?

You evidently don't read much news these days. 13 year old "children" murder thier parents with baseball bats and hammers these days. 13 year old "children" drink alcohol and do drugs these days. 13 year old "children" are out having sex and birthing babies these days. 13 year old "children" stay out all night breaking into cars and houses stealing things these days. 13 year old "children" commit murder and smile about it.

Believe me, there a lot of 13 year old "children" that NEED the crap slapped out of them! I hope it's not one of yours, but if it is and if it happens, don't automatically assume a jury will take their side! This is a different world we live in today. It's not that unlikey that a 13 year old "child" will put a 9mm in your face.

It's a thankless job...

..being a school bus driver. They barely get paid, have to drive junk equipment with the responsibility of out of control kids and out of control parents on their backs. I'd rather shovel sludge out of a sewer than put up with the crap those school bus drivers endure. Between the non-supporting school officials, the low pay, the responsibility and all of the whining they listen to, I'm surprised they can even find anyone to even drive these kids around anymore!

Guest 461.. I agree with

Guest 461.. I agree with that it is a job that not many people would want, however they did ask for these jobs and like it or not they are responsible for the well being of these children. I have four children, none of which ever rode a bus but if they had I would certainly be outraged as well if they were in the care of such inept people.

I AGREE!

He probably turned the bus around because of the out of control kids. I know that back in the day, our driver did that several times. It's a miracle that there aren't more accidents involving school buses.
Why in the world don't they install a communication system in every bus? This would only make sense! The driver could then radio back to the school or the bus garage and inform them of any circumstance that is keeping them from keeping the route timely.

how times have changed

i remember the good old days before cell phones and text messaging. the school nor my parents knew the bus driver was speeding up and down the street silly and committing traffic infractions left and right. we were dropped off at a central location near no one's house and would proceed to have a rock fight before walking home alone taking a shortcut through a yard of some ornery property owner. managed to make it home, do the right thing, and not light the house on fire while my parents were at work for another 2 hours. we're all grown up now and we turned out ok.
today, irate parents are boarding buses for who knows what reason and surely embarrassing their kid. others are demanding to know why a bus made a u-turn. man, times have changed...changed so much that now i'm the ornery property owner. darn!

You know..

I can not agree with you more.. I had the same thing growing up. You walked 2 or more blocks to the stop. You fought and acted stupid in some strangers yard..if it rained you stood on the strangers porch you were in front of.. randomly rang the door bell and hope they wouldn't answer..hahaha. And I am a normal, working, tax paying citizen.
Kids are coddled and taught that they are privileged and entitled to EVERYTHING.
I am sure some brat kid acted stupid and caused the driver to turn around. In my day we pulled over and sat for an hour (hot as h#ll spring days) waiting for the moron causing trouble to shut the heck up and let the bus start moving.
My mom never questioned why I was home late and when she did ask I'd say why she'd ask if I was involved.(Making sure like a good parent she didn't need to beat my butt)She wouldn't call the school and b#tch.

Parents stop coddling the kids and stop calling the media to air stuff that ain't news!!!!

to those who judge a school

to those who judge a school bus driver .... you apparently have never sat in the drivers seat with 40-60 children behind you , jumping around , talking , texting , screaming,arguing with others , getting up switching seats . all while you are paying attention to the road , other drivers and traffic , or looking out for that person that MUST turn in front of the bus (to avoid being a few minutes late for work). sometimes there is a situation where a child is acting out so much you must return to school to have their parent pick them up , did anyone ever consider that maybe the 2 way radio in the bus may of not been working properly that day ? so it might of not been feasible for the driver to notify someone he/she was turning around . those that drive a school bus dont do it for the money , its not that good of pay. you drive a school bus because you care about children ... lightnen up ...all bus drivers are not horrible . ~ a retired bus driver :)

To the retired bus driver

In no way do I believe that all bus drivers are horrible. Our bus driver last year was spectacular! I am only referring to one specific driver. As far as taking into consideration any technical issues that may have prevented the bus driver from calling into the school, I did. I have made two trips to the school and one trip to the BOE. I was informed that the bus driver had a school issued cell phone that should have been used to make that very important call and he chose not to. The school found out the bus had turned around only after a parent called in right before I did. After speaking with the transportation office and being told they could see the bus on GPS but had no clue why it was turning around and that they would have to call me back because it could be an emergency situation, I became concerned. I called both the middle school, the high school, the BOE and the transportation office that afternoon and was able to get NO information about what was happening with the bus. The assistant principal at SBMS told me yesterday morning that he did not find out the bus was turned around until it was back on the lot and another bus driver who did follow procedure used her cell phone to call him and inform him.
I do understand that children are rowdy, they misbehave and some of them get out of control but that is no excuse to disregard all of the rules and simply do what you want with a bus load of children. If he can not be trusted to make a simple phone call or be trusted to keep unauthorized people off the bus, how can he be trusted with the safety of 40-60 children?
I fully appreciate your comments. I rode a bus when in school and it wasn't all peaches and cream for the bus drivers but never did my bus driver refuse to answer valid questions from the students on the bus and never did he allow anyone to board our bus, parent or otherwise, because it was not allowed. When my son asks his bus driver where they are going as the bus turns around before he is dropped off at his house I fully expect that bus driver to answer him. I should not have to instruct my son to tell the driver that his parents are demanding to know in order to get an answer.

judge

If it is so hard to drive a bus maybe you should find a way to get involved with the children since you say the drivers care so much...sing a song with them! Play a game like cash cab have then answer questions. Stop frickin wineing, found another job!

Why did the driver turn the

Why did the driver turn the bus around? Probably some ill-mannered child with no discipline or respect. I feel for the drivers. They couldn't pay me enough to deal with these little monsters every day. That being said, why don't parents simply take their own kids to school? Guess they would rather whine and gripe and don't want to miss their soaps or leave the spa early.

I can see the problems with

I can see the problems with the two previous incidents, but this? Not so much. I couldn't begin to count how many times my bus turned around through the years and took us back to the school for some reason.

"During an emergency situation with the bus when no one knows where its going, there's almost no one to get a hold of to find out what's happening". What? It's 2011, everyone, even 10 year olds, have cell phones. How do you think they handled emergencies 20 years ago? 50? I don't understand the problem with this situation.

And I bet Mrs. Collins would be upset if her child was on the bus and the bus driver wouldn't let her on to get her child because "it's policy...it's fer da kids".

And no one is forcing anyone to use public schools or their buses.

this doesn't explain why the

this doesn't explain why the bus was even turned around? Kids get out of school around 3pm-ish and they don't get home until 6pm? whats wrong here?

in Brunswick county the

in Brunswick county the middle school doesn't get out till four now...so 6 is resonable if they turned around and went back to school.