Turn bus cameras on

Friday, December 14, 2007

To the Editor:

It has recently been called to my attention that our county school bus drivers are not required to keep film in the camera on their buses. What a tragedy and what a waste of the county taxpayer's money.

These cameras are for the protection of our children and driver. It is impossible for the driver to watch the actions of the children on the bus and drive safely. The driver can speculate on each child's behavior and, who did what to whom, but to say without a shadow of doubt that a particular child behaved mischievously prompting a written warning is questionable and cannot be proved without a film. How can a parent discipline the child without knowing specifically what the child was doing?

There is no question, children will be children, and will misbehave. They also need discipline by the parents when this occurs. The principal's hands are tied as it is the driver's word against the child's. Who wins? A video would confirm and appropriate action could be taken.

My husband has retired from the Transportation Department of another county that required every driver to have film in the camera and the camera filming. This was a fleet of over 150 buses. If a complaint or written warning was provided without the video to prove the accusation, it was voided. The exception would be when violence had occurred and perhaps it would be necessary to include law enforcement.

Some of the experiences he encountered was, a child setting fire to a paper airplane and flying it across the bus; a child cutting the seats on the bus; a child with a cattle prod using it on other children. Without the film from the camera the parents would never have believed that their child would do such a thing. Fortunately in these cases no one was hurt. Warnings and disciplinary actions were taken.

I challenge our school board, our interim school director and the transportation supervisor to put a policy in place that requires the cameras to be utilized for which they were installed. Marshall County parents contact your school board member and push for this policy.

Don't wait until we have a major tragedy, i.e. shooting, stabbing etc. to put this into place.

Unfortunately we are not immune for such an occurrence in this county. It's happening all around us.

Our drivers are special, our children are special. Let's protect them with what little ammunition we have.

A concerned grandmother.

Barbara Griffy