Archive for December, 2009

More on (or “moron”, if you like) the school buses

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

I really didn’t figure I’d have to write more on the school buses, but it just keeps getting weirder and worse.  If you haven’t read my previous post, the Cape Coral transportation has Crystal’s son Dominick riding for nearly 2 hours each way every day.  But it gets worse.

After doing a few interviews with the local Fox news station and speaking with a school board member, a few things have come up.  First the Superintendent of the Schools starts out by saying “Kids don’t mind the rides.  They love their schools so they don’t mind the rides.”  Really?  I’ve got news for you numnuts, I had a conversation with Dominick about his ride.  I did not do the parent thing and set him up to give the expected answer.  I asked if he liked riding his bus.  He said yes.  I asked if he liked his school. He said yes.  I asked if his ride was too long…he said yes.  I said I could make his ride shorter, but it would mean he couldn’t see his friends or teacher any more.  He’d have to make new friends and learn with a new teacher at a new school.  I told him it would be scary and hard to do, especially in the middle of the school year.  He might get teased by the kids at the new school.   The new teacher might not be as nice.  So he could ride the bus as he has been, or ride less time but have to go through all of the scariness and extra work of a new school.  I asked a few follow up questions to verify he understood the consequences.  I asked him if he’d like me to try, and without hesitating he replied “Yes.” 

Then the aforementioned numnuts says at a school board meeting “Some parents like the longer rides because they function as a free alternative to daycare.”  Daycare.  Daycare?  When you think “daycare”, you’re really thinking “road trip”?  When I think of “daycare” I think of a place where my son can safely play, under supervision, have fun and make friends.  Yet, I’m always riding him to behave and not screw around on the bus.  Hm.  I think you’re a bit off there Mr. Superintendent. 

But it gets worse…

We got wind before the Thanksgiving weekend that Dominick’s bus driver was switched, not only to a different route, but to an entirely different compound.  So now 1 of the 4 people he sees most every weekday (he sees his teacher 6 hours a day, his bus driver 4 hours, and us 3.5 hours every week day) is now taken away.  He doesn’t want her to go…he loves her.  She watches out for him, says hi, even came to his birthday party.  We don’t want her to go.  She watches out for him, and lets us know if he gives her any problems, doesn’t behave, or isn’t feeling well.  Officially, the transportation department says they moved her “for her own safety”.  Everyone involved gets the impression that the transportation has mud on its face and suspects she might have had something to do with it (which she didn’t) so this is a reprimand.  Crystal said on the news she was awesome.  The news said they were going after the routes, not the drivers.  But as of Monday, Dominick has a new driver.

It gets worse….

The Monday after thanksgiving, Crystal stood with Dominick as his bus pulled up with a new driver.  The doors opened and a big, surly guy was driving.  “That’s not my bus, Mama” Dominick said, panick streaking through his eyes.  “Yes it is,” Crystal replied.  “Remember, Karen isn’t your driver any more.”  Dominick looked back in terror as he climbed the steps onto the bus.  He glanced at the driver, as the driver glared back.  Dominick huriedly ran past and took a seat.  A tear streamed down his face as the bus pulled off.  “I thought about taking him to school,” Crystal said,” but he also needs to learn that not everybody is as warm as Karen.  I’m pissed at the new guy though.  He could’ve at least said ‘Hi, I’m going to be your new driver.  My name is [whatever], what’s yours.’  That would’ve gone a long way to making Dominick feel better.”

It gets worse….

Monday afternoon, the school bus pulls up, and Dominick is in the aisle beside the driver as soon as the bus doors open. As they walk up to the house, Crystal looks at Dominick.  “Did you buckle up?”  “No,” replies Dominick, matter-of-factly.  “You should always wear your seat belt.  It doesn’t matter who the driver is, Karen or not.”  “Ok”.

Today, the school bus pulls up in the afternoon.  Dominick is falling forward, apparently standing in the aisle as the bus is slowing down.  “Was he wearing his seat belt?” she asks the driver.  “He was supposed to be.”  When Dominick got inside she and I both chastised him for not wearing his seat belt.  It went in one ear and out the other.  So Crystal goes online and finds some accident pictures and animations to show him.  He gets scared and cries, but the point drives home.  Later in the evening, on the porch, Crystal tearily explains to Dominick she doesn’t want to get the call that he’s been hurt or killed because he didn’t buckle up.  I explain that he’s 6 years old.  As he gets older, he’s allowed to do more fun things, but he also has more things he has to do.  “Look at the Christmas lights we hung up this weekend.”  Dominick stares out over the yard.  “Remember how I was on the computer after that?” I ask.  He nods.  “I was adding up the numbers to make sure that we didn’t catch the house on fire, and that we can pay for the power to make the house pretty.  Understand?”  He nods. “You are 6.  You get to do some fun things, but not lots of them yet.  But you have two main jobs.  Listen to the adult in charge and buckle your seat belt are your two main jobs.  Understand?”  He nods.  “What do you do when you get on the bus?” “Buckle up.”  “And what happens if you don’t?”  “If you get into an accident, you could get hurt and bleed, or die.”  He’s got it.

Crystal, still friends with Karen, asks if they’re required to buckle up the kids.  She says “we’re supposed to ask them to buckle, but it’s not required.  I require it on my routes.”  I, being the intrepid little research hound look it up in the florida statutes.  FS316.6145 “Each passenger on a school bus that is equipped with safety belts or restraint system shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt at all times while the bus is in operation.”  It goes on to say that the school, driver, etc. are not liable if the bus gets into an accident and the only reason a passenger was hurt was because they weren’t wearing a seat belt.  Fair enough, I understand how politics goes.  But FS 1012.45 states “Each school bus driver has the authority and responsibility to control students during the time students are on the school bus”.  Crystal, as the parent, has done her part to make sure Dominick understands the consequences.  But he’s still a 6 year old riding a bus for 2 hours at a time.  And the bus driver is his guardian during that time.  Karen wouldn’t let him get away without a seat belt or standing in the aisles.  But this new guy doesn’t seem to care. 

It does, however, get a little better.

At my suggestion, Crystal didn’t go off the handle with the bus driver.   She did however, follow another of my suggestions and emailed the one school board member who was nice enough to speak with us in person, the local fox news station, the school board, the state department of education, the governor’s office, and Obama’s office.  And she CC’d everybody on the message so everybody knows everybody who got the message.  GodI love that woman! :)

In related news, the bus driver’s union is going ballistic over Karen’s “transfer” and doing what they can to help her out.