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Bus incidents mount in Brunswick County

READ MORE: Bus incidents mount in Brunswick County
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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.

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THE FOLLOWING IS A NEWS RELEASE SENT FROM BRUNSWICK COUNTY SCHOOLS IN REGARDS TO TWO INCIDENTS ON BUSES.

"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

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