Policy changes proposed in light of school bus incident

WOODSTOCK – Changes in school policy to make school bus travel safer will go before the Shenandoah County School Board on March 15.

“The students need to behave themselves and we expect our drivers to be professional at all times,” said schools Superintendent Mark Johnston.

A recent incident prompted the proposed policy changes when a county schools bus driver was placed on administrative leave after allegations arose that she had grabbed a first-grader and dragged him to a sea, and that she had verbally attacked other children who tried to intervene. An internal investigation cleared the driver, who returned to work this week but is driving a different bus route.

The policy changes would  clarify for bus drivers when to report to administrators infractions addressed in the code of conduct.

“If they report a infraction, it will be addressed,” Johnston said.

Proposed changes to the policy include:

• Additional coaching and training for drivers to help them manage bus behaviors and when and how to engage school administrators for serious occurrences.

• Remind administrators to continue to be present at the buses when school is dismissed, the time when most infractions will occur.

• The division plans to produce video using students to demonstrate expectations of student behavior.

• Swift action on disciplinary infractions, stating student transportation can be suspended.

• Engage the courts, Child Protective Services and other agencies if a parent fails to comply with mandatory attendance laws when a student is removed from a bus for disciplinary reasons.