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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.

Comment on this Story

  • 3293

    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!!!

  • Leigh Ann Collins

    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?

    Leigh Ann Collins

  • Jessica Swencki

    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.


    Jessica B. Swencki
    Brunswick County Schools

  • Guest28451

    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 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!

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