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
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