School system must release information on bus incident

October 19, 2007

Soon after it became public that a 5-year-old Washington County student who boarded the wrong bus had been dropped off two miles from his home, we heard from readers outraged by the incident.

However, until we get more facts on what happened, we can't comment in any detail on what action should be taken.

We urge the school system to release its report and a tape that shows the bus driver speaking to the child as soon as possible.

On Tuesday, it wasn't clear that the School Board had all the facts it wanted or needed. Board member William Staley said that "We haven't really gotten into the nuts and bolts. I don't know about the incident at all other than what I've read in the paper."


What we know at this time is contained in the following accounts given by the Kendra Peacher, the child's mother and schools spokesman Will Kauffman:

The boy boarded the wrong bus, apparently because of miscommunication between school officials, Kauffman said, and the bus driver was not aware of the mistake.

The child rode the bus until its second-to-last stop at St. James. Peacher said the bus driver then asked the boy where he lived, then told him he would have to walk.

He began the two-mile walk home, Peacher said, but was found by a family acquaintance wandering in the Food Lion parking lot, less than a quarter-mile from where he was dropped off.

Fortunately, the child was not harmed. Unfortunately, every parent of a kindergarten student riding a local school bus must be wondering what would prevent the same thing from happening again.

To reassure them, the school system must release its report and the videotape of the conversation between the bus driver and the child.

No doubt there are legal considerations in this case, but School Board members need to weigh those against how a lack of information will affect parents' confidence in - and support for - the school system.

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