Houston school bus drivers called for more discipline of rowdy students
About 25 school bus drivers, carrying signs and chanting outside Houston Independent School District headquarters, called Tuesday for more...
About 25 school bus drivers, carrying signs and chanting outside Houston Independent School District headquarters, called Tuesday for more discipline of rowdy students.
"We have kids jumping out of the back of the school bus while buses are moving," said Wretha Thomas, president of Houston Educational Support Personnel Local 6315, the union that represents school bus drivers.
"We have kids every day that come on the bus smoking marijuana," Thomas said. "We have kids on our buses every week fighting. We have bus drivers being disrespected every day." Drivers spoke of physical assaults and students carrying weapons.
"We even had a bus shot at by someone," said John Sears, who has driven a school bus for 17 years. "We don't feel we are in a safe environment driving these kids."
Ruby Carter, an 11-year driver on the northwest side, added: "We've had drivers get completely knocked out. Some of the kids are way bigger than the drivers."
Drivers said that when they report students for bad behavior, principals don't follow through with discipline. HISD spokesman Jason Spencer said the district was aware of drivers' concerns and had taken some steps to address them. "They're legitimate concerns," Spencer said. "Driving a bus is hard work."
The district's steps to ensure bus safety, he said, included giving drivers four hours of student-management training, equipping all buses with at least two security video cameras and holding monthly discussions to hear and address employees' concerns. "This is an ongoing, continual conversation," he said.
None of the drivers at the news conference, however, said they had received any training on dealing with students. Asked about the discrepancy, Spencer said, "Our transportation folks say they have."
Spencer said he didn't have district-wide data immediately available on the number of students punished for bus infractions because the information is kept at the campus level.
"We have more than 900 buses driving thousands of miles," he said.
The district asked the union to provide a list of specific complaints, and Thomas said she expected to have a list ready by Thursday.
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