Published on Mar 29,  2013
Courtesy of ABC

A St. Lucie County school bus aide is behind bars after she was caught on camera harassing a 5-year-old boy with disabilities, driving him to tears.

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Courtesy of:  Tribune Chronicle |

NILES - A bus driver who was placed on suspension after an elementary school student was left sleeping on a parked school bus had numerous offenses on his driving record prior to being hired by the school district.

 According to a driver history record provided by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Gary M. Brian, 62, had 14 driving offenses between 1995 and 2010. The Niles School District hired him as a bus driver in 2009.

Offenses include multiple speeding convictions as well as improper signaling, failure to control, operating unsafe vehicle, passing in violation of a posted sign or pavement marking, and violation of a traffic control device or sign, according to state Motor Vehicles records.

Interim Superintendent Frank Danso said he was not aware of the convictions on Brian's driving record and was not the acting superintendent when Brian was hired.

Danso said a full background check is performed on all school district employees prior to their employment and pending approval by the board. He said he could not confirm whether the former superintendent or board members were aware of Brian's driving record when he was hired.

Former superintendent Rocco Adduci, now the principal of LaBrae High School, declined comment.

Former superintendent Mark Robinson said he recalled Brian being one of three drivers hired the year before he took the position of superintendent following Adduci.

"All bus drivers in Ohio have drug and alcohol checks before they are hired,'' Robinson said. ''I would think that the driving record would have been looked into at the employment time.''

Danso said if official documentation affirming Brian's driving offenses is presented to him or the board, district attorneys would have to review the information to determine what affect it may or may not have on his employment.

About two weeks ago, an elementary school child was found sleeping on a bus inside the bus garage after the other children had been taken home. The driver was unaware of the child and had already left the garage when workers inside the garage found the child, according to reports.

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Courtesy of:  Jason Riley -The Courier-Journal

The mother of a former Watterson Elementary School second-grader has sued  the school’s principal and the Jefferson County Board of Education, alleging the boy was sexually assaulted on his school bus.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Jefferson Circuit Court, claims  several disciplinary problems on the child’s bus  were  reported
during the 2010-11 school year by the driver to school officials, including principal Vickie Talbott, but no action was taken.

In May 2011, in addition to being bullied and harassed, the child was “sexually assaulted” by another student on the bus ride
home, according to the suit.

“The most egregious thing to me about the case is the fact this bus driver begged for help with problems on this bus,” said attorney Wendi Wagner, who, along with John P. Nelson II, represents the mother. “And it appears to me that nothing was ever done.”

Because of the  experience, the suit says, the child withdrew from Jefferson County schools and has incurred health care and
psychiatric expenses. Claims made in filing a suit present only one side of the case.

Ben Jackey, a spokesman for Jefferson County Public Schools, said he could not comment on pending litigation.

Last year, attorney Ted Gordon filed  lawsuits claiming JCPS  staff and teachers failed to stop bullying and sexual assault.
Those cases are pending.

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Courtesy of:  Joseph Serna of The Los Angeles Times

A vigil is scheduled Tuesday night for a Palmdale teen who was killed when he was hit by a school bus while riding his bike.

Friends and family of Michael Valenzuela, 18, will gather at the intersection of 55th Street and Avenue R at 8 p.m. to remember the soccer-playing high school graduate, KTLA-TV reported.

Valenzuela was hit at about 3:45 p.m. as he rode his bike to soccer practice, said Gil Hernandez of the California Highway Patrol, which is investigating the accident.

Valenzuela was southbound on 54th Street when he stopped at at a stop sign at Avenue R.

The teen attempted to cross the avenue, but “did not clear the road” and was hit by a school bus traveling westbound on Avenue R, Hernandez said.

The bus was going 45 mph when it struck Valenzuela, authorities said. His body was recovered 150 feet away from the collision. He was pronounced dead at Antelope Valley Hospital.

He was nicknamed “Speedy” because of his love for running cross-country and track, KTLA reported.

“He was a good kid, a good guy,” Valenzuela’s friend Marco Ibarra told the TV station. “We called him the baby of the group because he was the youngest one of us. Speedy -- he loved running.”

The bus had moderate damage to its front end. There were 47 children between kindergarten and eighth grade on board and none of them were injured, Hernandez said.

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The Escambia County (FLORIDA) Sheriff’s Office and the school district joined forces this week to conduct a hostage training exercise.

“We are here in conjunction with the school board; they’ve donated us a bus to practice on in case we ever had the situation where there was a hostage situation  they recently had in Alabama,” Ted Roy said. “If we practice it, then hopefully if it ever happens we would be ready for it.”

“Events in the last few months forces all of us to take a second thought about we can protect our valuable asset, our children,” Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said about school security. “So with the sheriff conducting exercises like he is doing today, it should increase confidence of our citizens that our students are going to be safe when you leave them in our care.”

Roy said the exercise allowed the SWAT team to become familiar with the school buses and look as positions the team might use in a real-life hostage scenario. With a plan in place, Roy said, the SWAT team can react faster.

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Courtesy of:  Tajuana Cheshier

Jackson-Madison County (TN) Schools is running short on substitute school bus drivers, which can sometimes cause delays in students being picked up on the way to or from school.

Transportation supervisor Grant Ward said the district has 22 substitute drivers on its list but it really needs a total of 30

“The subs have schedule conflicts also, and it’s their choice on whether they accept the work for that day, just like a
substitute teacher,” Ward said.

“We can always use more drivers,” he said.  In cases where a substitute driver is called, Ward said, the goal is to complete all pick-ups and drop-offs within a 45-minute time frame.

When a route is late, Ward said the transportation department notifies the school so that the office can begin calling affected

He said the challenge is attracting and retaining substitute drivers.

“A full-time driver earns $13.37 an hour in the first year and tops out at $14.12 an hour at 15 years,” Ward explained.  Full-time drivers work six hours a day and are paid for 30 hours per week.  “Substitute drivers make $13.37 an hour,” Ward said.

Ward encouraged those who meet driver qualifications to apply for the substitute drivers position.

Apply at the Transportation Center, 59 Harts Bridge Road, call (731) 988-3890 ext. 1 or email

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Courtesy of:  Reporter: Julia Sims

Garner, N.C. — A 14-year-old girl was killed Monday morning at a school bus stop near Garner, a spokesman for the North
Carolina State Highway Patrol said.

Spokesman 1st Sgt. Jeff Gordon said Maria Fernandez Jimenez was crossing N.C. Highway 50 – Benson Highway – near J.R. Drive shortly after 6:30 a.m. when she ran into the path of a 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix.

Witnesses said the bus, headed south, was nearing its stop when Jimenez crossed the road, Gordon said. Its amber lights were flashing, but its red lights were not, and its stop arm was not extended.

"We have two independent witnesses behind the bus that state the bus was not completely stopped, and the red lights were not out," Gordon said.

Renee McCoy, the Wake County Public School System's interim director of public relations, said the bus was headed to Garner Magnet High School, where Jimenez was in the ninth grade.

Six students were on the bus at the time, Gordon said. The girl's 16-year-old brother was with her at the time and was just a few steps behind her.

"Of course, everybody here is shook up, rightfully so," Gordon said. "Anytime you have a child (who gets struck and dies), it affects everybody from the law enforcement to the community to the school and, more importantly, to the parents."

Neither speed nor alcohol were factors in the wreck, he said, but it was still dark at that time in the morning.

"That's one of the factors we're looking at," Gordon said.

Although authorities don't expect to file charges in the case, Gordon said the case is a good reminder for drivers to pay attention to their surroundings whenever they see a school bus.

Crisis counselors were on hand at Garner Magnet High School to help students cope, McCoy said.

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Courtesy of:  Blayne Alexander @ 11 Alive

ATLANTA -- Some Atlanta Public School parents are calling for tougher security aboard district buses. They spoke out three days after a Sutton Middle School student brought a BB gun aboard a bus and shot two students.

"That hit too close to home," said LaToya McIntosh. "My daughter was on that bus."

RELATED: Girl shot with BB gun aboard APS school bus

McIntosh and Tiffani Craft put their daughters on the bus to Sutton Middle School five days a week. Their girls say it's nothing new for their classmates to bring dangerous or banned items aboard the bus.

"It's very easy," said Craft's eighth-grade daughter, D'Auria . "They even hide stuff on the bus, sometimes there's rips in seats that they can hide stuff in, and when they get back on the bus, it'll be there."

Craft and McIntosh say they are scared to put their daughters back on the bus. They believe the bus a gray zone: an area they feel is ignored when officials consider school safety.

"I think maybe they should implement some sort of bus monitor," Craft said. "They can't put all the responsibility on the bus driver."

"They have metal detectors in the schools to make sure the students are safe," McIntosh added. "And since the school bus would be an extension of the schools, I feel they should probably do the same thing."

Atlanta Public Schools spokesman Steve Alford said the district is constantly considering new safety measures on buses and in schools. While bus monitors and metal detector wands have all come under consideration, Alford said it's also a question of practicality.

"If we have someone on the bus patting down students, how much time does that add to the school day and to the bus ride?" Alford said. "Does that mean that every parent will have to put their child out at the bus stop 30 minutes earlier than they are now?

Craft and McIntosh say absolutely, if that's what it will take to keep their kids safe.

"What's 30 extra minutes as opposed to attending your child's premature funeral?" Craft said.

Both parents and district officials agree that APS must address the root cause behind these problems: why are children bringing weapons to school in the first place?

The eighth grade student who brought the BB gun has been suspended from school. According to Atlanta Police, he will be charged with aggravated assault.

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Courtesy of:  Eric Blom - The Riverton Ranger

Motivated by a classmate's death, a group of Fremont County School District 6 tudents are lobbying the state Legislature to change laws about school bus safety.  The children made a presentation to Fremont County Commission at its March 12
meeting, and the county board pledged its support.

"After we had the death of a student in school, this group wanted to move forward and get some laws changed about bus safety," Wind River Middle School principle Jeffrey Verosky said.

Verosky was referring to the Dec. 20, 2011, death of Makayla Marie Strahle, who had just stepped off her school bus and was crossing a road when a vehicle struck her.

The Wind River High School and Middle School students traveled to Cheyenne during the recent legislative session and spoke with the joint Education Committee.

Verosky, school resource officer Sheriff's deputy Brett Johnson, district transportation director Kevin Schieffer and school counselor Amy Sennett accompanied the students to see the county board.

"(Legislators) are going to move forward and look at some proposals (the students) put forward," Verosky tells The Riverton Ranger.

Several told commissioners their classmate's death affected them strongly. Seventh-grader Klayton Rose said he was friends with the victim and rode the bus with her.

The night of the accident, he and Makayla were riding the bus home from a Christmas dance, Klayton said. When the girl was hit, he ran out to check on her, and his brother ran to tell her dad.

"I didn't know something like that could happen. Before then I always felt safe getting on and off the bus; I no longer feel that way," Klayton said. "Every time I get on the bus, it's sad not seeing her."

The students said Wyoming has weak penalties for drivers who pass buses stopped with their lights flashing and stop signs extended, incidents which are called "fly-bys."

Tenth-grader Ambrielle Brown said the fine for a fly-by in Wyoming is $420. A citation is not mandatory, and the penalty does not increase for repeat offenders.

Students say such drivers also could be charged with reckless driving, but the current laws are not enough. They recommend a harsher penalty for bus fly-bys.

Others described how recording license plates of people who pass stopped buses is difficult for bus drivers, complicating enforcing the existing laws. Schieffer said cameras on the buses have trouble recording fly-bys because the vehicles often operate in low light. He said local terrain can block radio signals, further impeding incident reporting.

Student Stephen Littleshield described an Iowa law which imposed a $350-750 fine on the first offense and up to a year in jail. Penalties increase until a third offense is considered a felony punishable with up to five years in jail and $7,500 in fines.

"We lobbied the legislature to pass a similar law to deter people from passing stopped school buses," Stephen said.

The students said education is another way to address fly-bys. Seventh-grader Cole Nelson said, the Department of Education taped several radio spots, some involving District 6 students, asking drivers to be more careful around buses.

Colton Anderson said the Wyoming Department of Transportation has placed three billboards in the Pavillion area addressing school bus safety.  The students also recommended any drivers in a collision with a school bus undergo a blood test. Currently the bus drivers in a collision must submit to such a test, but it's up to law enforcement's discretion to test the other vehicle's driver, they said. Commissioners commended the students and said they would support their efforts.

"If you could give us a little lead time, I wouldn't have any problem attending the meeting to support these students' efforts," chairman Doug Thompson said.

"I would like to congratulate you for an excellent presentation, for the research that you did, and the personal accounts of your friend who died," Commissioner Stephanie Kessler said. "I know that was pretty hard."

Thompson said he would talk to commissioners from other counties would lobby the Legislature as well. He thought officials from other counties would be supportive.

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Courtesy of:  CBS New York

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — They were hired to protect, but instead were arrested for neglect.

A bus driver and matron face charges for allegedly leaving a special education student on a school bus for five hours in the cold.
CBS 2’s Christine Sloan spoke exclusively Friday with the mother whose child was left behind.

Imagine being a special needs student and finding yourself trapped on a school bus for hours with no one to help you.
It happened to an 11-year-old boy earlier this week in Manhattan. On March 11, a similar incident happened in northern
New Jersey.

“I prayed … I talked to my heavenly father,” Anthony Suarez said.  That is what this special needs student said he did as he sat trapped for five hours inside a Hudson County Transport school bus parked in the company’s lot in Jersey City.

Eight-year-old Suarez, who suffers from a genetic disorder that prevents him from thriving, was on the bus heading to his school in North Bergen when he fell asleep on the back bench.

“And then I woke up I was alone in the bus,” Suarez said, adding when asked if he was scared, “A little.”

Suarez said he hid because he was afraid people outside would hurt him.

“You put your child on the bus you expect to see him back,” mother Yadira Siguencia said.

Police said the little boy found himself stranded because the 71-year-old bus driver, identified as Arturo Martinez, and 62-year-old aide Aida Lazala didn’t check for students on the bus when they left it in the lot after their morning shift.

When they finally returned in the afternoon they noticed the 8-year-old inside the bus and called the school. Suarez’s mother said she had no idea he hadn’t been dropped off.

“I am mixed emotions. I am angry. I’m happy that he is OK,” Siguencia said. “I don’t know, you know, how this has affected him emotionally.”

Martinez and Lazala have been charged with endangering the welfare of a special needs child.  CBS 2’s Sloan tried to get comment from Martinez, but he and his son told us they couldn’t talk because of a family emergency.

The owner of Hudson County Transport, which is contracted by the North Bergen School District, did not immediately return CBS 2’s call, and when Sloan stopped by a woman identifying herself as a receptionist told us he wasn’t in.

The receptionist described Martinez and Lazala as good people.

Suarez’ mother said she’s just happy her son is safe. While she wouldn’t talk directly about the bus company, she said letting the employees go is not enough.

“I don’t want this to happen to any little boy, any child, or [for] any parent [to] feel the desperation,” she said.

The North Bergen School District is demanding a thorough investigation of this company’s procedures. The district superintendent said he was shocked by the inexcusable neglect and incompetence of the bus company’s two employees.

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