HCDE looking to change bus policy after students left on board
On Thursday, Hamilton County schools said the bus driver was fired for leaving children alone on the bus at the bus yard on Dodds Avenue. Now the school district is working to change a policy that allows bus employees to drop off students at the bus yard.
Whether boarding a bus or learning in the classroom, Superintendent Doctor Bryan Johnson says the safety of children drives everything they do.
However, on Tuesday an incident at the bus yard raised some concern.
"There were a couple of children that were left unattended," Dr. Johnson said.
On Thursday, Hamilton County Schools said the bus driver was fired for leaving children alone on the bus at the bus yard on Dodds Avenue.
The two siblings were left alone for about an hour. School officials said they were dropped off by their mother, who works as a bus monitor for Durham School Services.
The company allows their employee’s children to get a ride to school at the bus yard.
The bus driver responsible for the students switched buses because of a maintenance issue. The driver then took another bus, leaving those students behind.
"I have an expectation of the adults that are supervising them to keep them safe and obviously to teach them,” Dr. Johnson said.
So why are students allowed to be dropped off at the bus yard in the first place?
In a statement to Channel 3, a Durham spokesperson said, "Safety is our top priority. Per our policy, students are not to be left unattended on a bus; the driver is no longer in our employ. As a convenience for our team members, they are allowed to drop their students off at our bus yard office.”
Doctor Johnson says this policy is an area concern for the school district and has been in constant communication with Durham over the last 48 hours.
"We have made very clear our expectations and the responsibilities we know we have to keep our children safe, so they definitely take that into consideration,” he said.
Since the incident, Doctor Johnson says he's working to change or remove the policy allowing students to be dropped off the bus yard.
"Any policy that may have been in place that would've put children at risk, that it's something that needs to be addressed,” he said.
Hamilton County is in their first year of a two-year contract with Durham.
Doctor Johnson is about to kick off 14 listening work sessions, where they could discuss an alternative transportation system.
"We will look at every option and we'll continue to do that and continue to expect the public to let us know what's best,” Dr. Johnson said.
Channel 3 reached out to Durham to obtain the drivers’ personnel records to see if he has any other offenses on his record.
The company has not yet responded to that request.