School bus driver suspended after parent complains of dangerous driving
A Hamilton County school bus driver is on unpaid suspension after a parent complained of erratic driving to Channel 3.
The East Hamilton Middle School parent first said last week her child's bus driver was driving dangerously; everything from texting and driving, to speeding and screeching halts.
Durham Schools Services Manager Mike Quinn said Tiffany Winston was suspended without pay as the company's Human Resources Department investigates her alleged dangerous driving.
"I think if you can't comply with the standards of your occupation, you need to find another job," said Robin Stemberg.
Robin Stemberg said the driver of her 7th grade daughter's bus needs to be fired.
"But she didn't turn on her lights, her bus lights, and the brakes were actually squealing because she was stopping so short," she said.
She said she first noticed the erratic driving at the beginning of the school year: Everything from speeding to texting and driving to just having, what she calls, a bad attitude.
"I said, boy she's driving fast and my daughter said she always drives that fast. And I said really? And that prompted more questions and that's when the texting thing came out. She said she texts too and I'm like 'oh my word,'" she said. "This woman who's texting shouldn't be on the phone on the bus, ignoring the children, looking down when kids got on the bus. That concerned me."
All the allegations are against Hamilton County Schools Transportation Department's policy manual. It includes:
- No speeding (Rural streets not to exceed posted speed limit; Highway and interstate not to exceed 55 mph).
- NO CELLULAR PHONE USE WHILE OPERATING YOUR SCHOOL BUS. WHEN CELLULAR PHONE IS USED FOR SPECIAL NEEDS ROUTE, THE ASSISTANT WILL USE THE PHONE AND MAKE THE CALL(S) AT ALL TIMES.
- Rude, abusive, and/or vulgar language to students, school personnel, or supervisors is prohibited and will be dealt with on an individual basis. It is the responsibility of Driver/Assistant to maintain a professional attitude at all times.
Overall the policy states, "Any negligence which endangers others will not be tolerated and will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action."
"They shouldn't be scared. A kid shouldn't be scared to ride their school bus," she said.
Stemberg said it's time to stop the dangerous driving on Bus #433... A bus that, at least for now, is driven by someone else.
"I'm afraid for the other children because if one bus driver's doing this are there more? I just want to bring awareness to the situation," she said.
Quinn wouldn't talk on camera Tuesday but said every complaint is case-by-case. He's now waiting to hear back from Human Resources about Winston's fate. He also said this is not the first complaint they've received about Winston.