Is your child safe on the school bus? A look at AISD's policies

AISD explains its policies on bus safety

ABILENE, Texas - A school bus driver's job is to get kids safely from point A to point B. But what happens when something goes wrong in between?

In July, a violent beating took place on a Florida school bus where the driver called for help on the radio, but didn't jump in to stop the attack by at least three students against another.

How would the Abilene Independent School District handle a similar situation?

"We're not asking out bis driver to jump in and start separating people, but we are asking them to try to get control," said AISD Transportation Director Rodney Murphy. "Our bus drivers are not equipped to break up fights just like teachers are not equipped to break up fights."

However, the district does try to keep this from happening by staying one step ahead.

"We try to keep control of the bus at all times," Murphy said. "And if we're in control and proactive before anything starts, then that helps us."

The good news is that surveillance cameras are installed on all buses within the district.

Murphy said their sole existence is to help keep kids safe.

"Anything there's a problem on the bus, you've got another set of eyes," he said.

According to Murphy, bus drivers are taught discipline techniques in hopes that something like what happened in Florida never happens in Abilene.

Murphy also said in the event of a fight, the first thing a bus driver is trained to do is pull over and stop and then get on the radio to the school and police.

According to an 2011-2012 AISD Student Handbook, here are the rules regarding school buses.

All students are provided free transportation to school by AISD school buses. Tardiness and absences will not be excused because students decline the opportunity to ride the bus to school. School buses are considered part of the AISD campus and all rules apply to bus riders.

Students being transported by school-owned vehicles shall comply with the District's Student Code of Conduct.

Unacceptable behavior on the bus includes, but is not limited to the following:
• Being disobedient or disrespectful to the driver
• Moving around while the bus is in motion
• Defacing the bus in any manner
• Sticking the head or hands out of a window
• Throwing objects out of the window
• Talking or laughing loudly
• Using tobacco
• Scuffling or fighting
• Using obscene and or unacceptable language or gestures
• Littering the bus
• Disturbing others
• Eating or drinking on the bus
• Tampering with the bus or equipment
• Possessing or being under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, a controlled substance, a dangerous drug, or what appears to be a prohibited substance
• Possessing weapons or "look-alike-weapons"

Should the rules be broken, a referral will be given to the principal or assistant principal and appropriate disciplinary action will be administered.

First Referral: Bus removal warning letter to parents, lunch detention, ISS, or RAC,
depending on the infraction.
Second Referral: Bus removal for 5 to 10 days, possible ISS or RAC, depending on the
Third Referral: Bus removal for 10 days, possible ISS or RAC, depending on the
Fourth Referral: Bus removal for the remaining days left in the semester, possible ISS or RAC, depending on the infraction.
Any Further Referrals: Possible bus removal for the rest of the school year, possible ISS, or RAC, depending on the infraction.

The above consequences are general guidelines and can be modified in order to deal with the behavior appropriately. More serious infractions might require that a student be removed from the bus immediately. Decisions as to what constitutes appropriate consequences for infractions of the rules will be determined by the Principal or Assistant Principal. All decisions are final. Restitution for any damage caused by a student to the bus must be made before a student returns to the bus after being removed.

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