Courtesy of:  ABC15.com

LAVEEN, AZ - Video from inside a school bus shows just how long  a  4-year-old boy with special needs was left
alone
, and overlooked,  after being taken to school last week.

The surveillance footage was obtained Wednesday by ABC15, and it shows Floyd Smith left on the bus by himself for 11 minutes.

Jennifer Ponce said her son, Floyd Smith, got on the school bus around 11:30 a.m. April 22 to attend the preschool program at Laveen Elementary School.  The video shows the bus on the way to the bus school yard after it left Floyd's school. The 4-year-old fell asleep and never got off, overlooked by both the bus driver and bus aide.

After about six minutes of being left alone, Floyd can be seen in the video, poking his head around a seat and appearing confused.

"At one point, he gets up and looks around and is clearly bewildered by the fact he's alone on that bus," said  Rudy  Resendez Jr ., the family attorney.

After several more minutes, a third school worker can be seen entering the bus, spotting Floyd, but not getting the boy any help. Instead,  the employee walked to the back of the bus and continued working.

"T  his employee, unfortunately, did not remove him from the bus but went about his business of putting the car seats 
into the other seats in the bus," said Resendez.  About five minutes later, the worker got off the bus and went to  get another
employee to help the young boy.

"I  think it clearly shows more training is necessary," said Resendez.

“It’s hard to imagine that someone would leave a child on the bus for even a split second or forget about him,” said Ponce.

At 1 p.m., the school left Ponce a voicemail informing her that her son never  arrived to class, 30 minutes after class started. Around 1:26 p.m., she received a second voicemail saying her son had been found after being left on the school bus.

Ponce said her son is in special education for speech and other problems and unable to provide any answers himself.

In a statement, the school district spokesperson Karen Menge said:

We take the safety of our students very seriously. We immediately started a thorough investigation into this incident. 
The transportation employees involved were placed on administrative leave. All transportation employees have been reminded of their responsibilities and the requirement to follow all procedures without exception. 
 

We have and will continue to review our transportation procedures to ensure a safe delivery of our students. 
 
Menge told ABC15 the district policy states transportation workers are supposed to inspect the bus for any children before
workers get off.

Menge said the school district has approximately 2649 students in the district that are eligible to ride a bus

Article & Video Online: 
http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_west_valley/laveen/boy-left-on-school-bus-video-4-year-old-with-special-needs-left-alone-on-laveen-school-bus
 
 
Courtesy of:  Corey Rangel @ ABC15.com

LAVEEN, AZ - A 4-year-old boy with special needs was left alone on a school bus Monday afternoon after two different school employees on the bus overlooked the boy who had fallen asleep.

Jennifer Ponce said her son, Floyd Smith, got on the school bus around 11:30 a.m. Monday to attend the preschool program at Laveen Elementary  School. At 1 p.m., the school left her a voicemail informing her that her son never arrived to class, 30 minutes after class started.

Around 1:26 p.m., she received a second voicemail saying her son had been found after being left on the school bus. When she called looking for answers, Ponce said the school district didn’t know many details.

“I still don’t know how long he was on the bus,” said Ponce. “It’s hard to imagine someone that someone would leave a child on the bus for even a split second or forget about him,” said Ponce.

Ponce said her son is in special education for speech and other problems and unable to provide any answers himself.  Karen Menge, a spokesperson for Laveen Elementary School District, told ABC15  the district was still investigating how the bus driver and the bus aide missed the boy.

He was found on the bus at the district’s school bus yard, about 2 miles from the boy’s school, by a third employee. The boy was still strapped in his seat, similar to a car seat.

The high temperature in Phoenix on Monday reached 94 degrees.

After he was found, the boy was taken to class and his mother was called.

 “I feel like he was neglected. If this was me – if someone saw me get  out of the car to walk in to get gas or to walk in and grab something at the grocery store, my son would not be with me today. I would be in jail and he would be in CPS [Child Protective Services] custody,” said Ponce.

Menge said it’s still not clear how long the boy was left alone.  “Every procedure and protocol we are revisiting just to make sure that everything is being followed and also to see if there any changes that need to be made,” said Menge.

Menge said she was not sure if there was surveillance video on the bus.  She also did not know if the bus driver or student aide had been disciplined or if they were back at work.

The Department of Public Safety told ABC15 it’s investigating the incident to  determine if any action should be taken regarding the driver's license to operate a bus.  While Ponce waits for answers, she said it’s hard to imagine what could have happened to her son if he hadn’t been found sooner.

“I don’t want to think about it. Something really could have happened to him.  He could have wandered off the bus, got ran over or God forbid he could have died inside that bus,"  said a tearful Ponce.

Ponce said she planned to meet with the school district on Wednesday morning to get more details about what happened.

Read more: http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_west_valley/laveen/4-year-old-boy-with-special-needs-left-alone-on-school-bus#ixzz2RTNJAvnf
 
 
Courtesy of:  By Matthew Longdon @ Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Starting next school year, school buses in Arizona will be required to use stop signs and flash warning lights even on privately owned roads.

The law, recently signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, was prompted by the 2008 death of an 8-year-old Elizabeth Bates, who was hit by a truck when she exited a school bus in a Safford mobile home park. The bus she was on wasn’t using its stop sign or lights at the time.

HB 2170, authored by Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott, will expand requirements for school buses that currently apply to public roads.

“It’s for their safety,” said Fann, the chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee. “We can’t let another little girl get killed.”  The law will take effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session.

Yvonne Hunter, an attorney with the law firm Fennemore Craig, which represented the Bates’ family, brought the idea to Fann and helped draft the legislation. She said the family wanted to prevent other families from losing children.

“Anything we can do to make things safer for kids saves lives,” Hunter said. “Children just aren’t aware what’s going on around them, and we need to help.”  Hunter said the law will remove any confusion bus drivers may have about using stop signs and warning lights beyond public roads, as well as making it clear that other vehicles must stop regardless of where a bus is located.

Dean Humphrey, director of transportation for Pendergast Elementary School District in the West Valley, said the law will support what his district already is doing. Its buses use stop signs and flashing lights whether they are on public roads or stopped in a strip mall parking lot, he said.

“When someone honks at a driver for putting out the arm in a spot they don’t think is appropriate, the driver knows he’s just following the law,” Humphrey said.  Failure to stop at for a bus is a civil penalty of $250 on the first violation. Humphrey said he wants a steeper fine.

“A bigger penalty won’t be a big deterrent, but it won’t hurt,” he said. “And I’d like to see that money put in a student safety fund.”

The new law also will apply to private roads governed by homeowners associations, such as those in gated communities.

Linda Lang, president and CEO of the Arizona Association of Community Managers, said she’s never heard of this being an issue on roads owned by HOAs. She said bus stops for children who live in gated communities often are on adjacent public roads.

“We’re in support of the law,” she said. “We support the safety of children. I can’t imagine this being an issue in an HOA community.”

Article Online:  http://www.yourwestvalley.com/schools/article_9a55c4f8-a924-11e2-b804-001a4bcf887a.html
 
 
By Kristen Hwang -The Arizona Republic

 Alhambra Elementary School District is reviewing its policy of allowing parents and guardians aboard school buses after a man was arrested on suspicion of following a student on board a bus Thursday and leaving a loaded gun magazine.

Phoenix police arrested Jeremy West, 29, about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, according to Officer James Holmes, spokesperson for the Phoenix Police Department.

Thursday morning, a school resource officer for Simpson School was notified that a suspicious person had rode a school bus from 2534 W. Georgia Ave. to the school at 5330 N. 23rd Ave.

The man had approached a 14-year-old boy Wednesday afternoon at the bus stop near where the boy lived and
offered him a cigarette, according to Holmes. The boy told the man to leave him alone and went home.

Around 7:30 a.m. Thursday, the same man followed the boy onto a school bus and sat at the rear of the vehicle. An adult bus assistant asked if the man was accompanying the child, and the man said that he was, according to authorities.

Bus drivers and assistants are supposed to ask adults accompanying children for identification and why they need a ride to the
school. In this instance, the boy did not dispute the man’s claim, and the bus assistant let him stay on the bus, said Linda Jeffries, spokeswoman for Alhambra Elementary School District.

Three children were on the bus at the time.

When the bus arrived at the school around 7:45 a.m., the man asked the bus assistant where the nearest church was located and left the area, according to authorities.

Another student on the bus, age 13, found a fully loaded 9 mm magazine on the seat where the man had been sitting and gave
it to the bus assistant, according to authorities.

Officers talked to West at an apartment near West Georgia Avenue and Interstate 17. West told police he had been on the school bus and was taken into custody without incident, according to Holmes.

Many parents in the district do not have vehicles or other transportation to get to school if they need to meet with
their child’s teacher or attend a school event, Jeffries said.

The district has allowed family members of students to ride the bus to school with their children to encourage parents to stay involved with their child’s education, Jeffries said.

The district is reviewing its policy and investigating the bus assistant’s actions.

The district has 14,000 students from pre-school to eighth grade. Simpson School has students in grades fourth through eighth.

Article/Video Online: 
http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/20130405phoenix-man-held-after-school-bus-boarded-ammo-left.html

 
 
By Kristen Hwang - The Arizona Republic-12 News 

Alhambra Elementary School District is reviewing its policy of allowing parents and guardians aboard school buses after a man was arrested on suspicion of following a student on board a bus Thursday and leaving a loaded gun magazine.

Phoenix police arrested Jeremy West, 29, about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, according to Officer James Holmes, spokesperson for the Phoenix Police Department.

Thursday morning, a school resource officer for Simpson School was notified that a suspicious person had rode a school bus from 2534 W. Georgia Ave. to the school at 5330 N. 23rd Ave.

The man had approached a 14-year-old boy Wednesday afternoon at the bus stop near where the boy lived and
offered him a cigarette, according to Holmes. The boy told the man to leave him alone and went home.

Around 7:30 a.m. Thursday, the same man followed the boy onto a school bus and sat at the rear of the vehicle. An adult bus assistant asked if the man was accompanying the child, and the man said that he was, according to authorities.

Bus drivers and assistants are supposed to ask adults accompanying children for identification and why they need a ride to the
school. In this instance, the boy did not dispute the man’s claim, and the bus assistant let him stay on the bus, said Linda Jeffries, spokeswoman for Alhambra Elementary School District.

Three children were on the bus at the time.  When the bus arrived at the school around 7:45 a.m., the man asked the bus assistant where the nearest church was located and left the area, according to authorities.

Another student on the bus, age 13, found a fully loaded 9 mm magazine on the seat where the man had been sitting and gave
it to the bus assistant, according to authorities.

Officers talked to West at an apartment near West Georgia Avenue and Interstate 17. West told police he had been on the school bus and was taken into custody without incident, according to Holmes.

Many parents in the district do not have vehicles or other transportation to get to school if they need to meet with
their child’s teacher or attend a school event, Jeffries said.

The district has allowed family members of students to ride the bus to school with their children to encourage parents to stay involved with their child’s education, Jeffries said.

The district is reviewing its policy and investigating the bus assistant’s actions.

The district has 14,000 students from pre-school to eighth grade. Simpson School has students in grades fourth through eighth.

Article/Video Online: 

 
 
Courtesy of:  Kristen Gosling

By Jackee Coe, The Republic | azcentral.com

Two Apache Junction High School students were disciplined after school
officials investigated allegations they had bullied a junior high student on a
school bus, officials said.

A Cactus Canyon Junior High student reported to the school's assistant
principal on the morning of March 6 that two high school students previously had
burned him while riding on a school bus to the Apache Junction Boys and Girls
Club, Apache Junction Unified School District spokesman Brian Killgore said. 

The principal investigated the incident and by the afternoon had identified
the two high school students who allegedly used lighters to heat up erasers and
then touch the 13-year-old student on the arms and neck, he said. They were
reported to the Apache Junction Police Department.

One student was disciplined on March 7 and the other was disciplined on March
8 because he didn't attend school the day before, Killgore said. He declined to
say what the discipline was, citing the federal Family Educational Rights and
Privacy Act.

The victim told The Republic Wednesday that the incidents started in February
and continued for several weeks. He said he was scared to report it because the
high school students threatened to beat him up if he did. The Republic does not
name victims of crime.

The boy's mother, who The Republic is also not naming, said they could tell
something was happening because his behavior changed "drastically" as he began
lashing out at his parents and sister and disrespecting everyone. After several
days of trying to get him to tell them what was wrong, he finally told them
about the bullying on the school bus.

The boy had scars on his arm and the back of his neck from where he said the
high school students burned him with the erasers. He also had a bruise on his
left cheek from where he said he was punched multiple times by an 8th-grade
student who jumped him Monday at the bus stop in retaliation for reporting the
other students.

"As a mother, I'm heartbroken, I'm sad. I'm so angry that something like this
could happen to my child," she said. "And if it happened to him, how many other
children in that school or that school district is it happening to also that
haven't come forward or are too scared to come forward?"

The boy's parents reported the burning incidents to the Apache Junction
Police Department on March 5, who conducted an investigation and submitted the
case to the Pinal County Attorney's Office's juvenile division, Interim Police
Chief Thomas Kelly said. The attorney's office will determine whether to file
charges against the juveniles.

Another police report shows the boy was assaulted Monday at a bus stop by
another 13-year-old student, but investigators were unable to find a connection
to the previous incidents, Kelly said. The teen, who punched the boy in the
face, was arrested and the Police Department submitted an assault charge to the
county attorney's office.

The mother said bullying has "gotten out of
control," and all adults - whether parents, school officials, bus drivers,
neighbors or just passersby - need to stand up against bullying.

"No parent wants their child to be harmed and it's hard enough for us to try
and look out for them from the predators and other incidents that can happen on
the streets nowadays," she said. "Now we have to watch for other juveniles to
harm our children physically and emotionally? It just has to stop. The bullying
has to stop."

Article Online:  http://www.ksdk.com/news/article/370873/28/Bullies-burn-child-on-school-bus
 
 
Courtesy of:  By Cathryn Creno
The Republic | azcentral.com

A Skyline High School student who was struck and pinned under a school bus when she was walking in a crosswalk in 2011 has sued both Mesa and Mesa Public Schools.

Wynnona Brooks, who was 18 at the time of the incident, suffered a dislocated hip, a severe sprain to a joint in her upper back, puncture wounds to the back and other injuries after a bus driven by Kenneth Bischof struck her, pinning her under a wheel well.

The suit was filed after the city and the district rejected a claim for $1 million filed last September. Claims generally are precursors to lawsuits and give governmental entities in Arizona a chance to settle a dispute before it goes to court.

Brooks took time off school for surgeries and rehab and this school year returned to Skyline to complete her diploma, said her attorney, Mack Jones.  “She is doing very well, considering everything that happened,” he said.

Bischof was fired by the school board in January 2012 and also served with a civil citation for failure to yield.

According to a police report, Bischof first realized something was wrong on the morning of Dec. 2, 2011, when a student yelled "look out" as the bus turned left onto Crismon Road from Broadway Road.  By the time the driver spotted Brooks in the crosswalk, the bus had already "bumped" her, the report states.

Police said Bischof had trouble seeing Brooks because it was still dark. Brooks was wearing dark colors and also did not hear the noise of the bus because she was listening to music with headphones, police said.

About 20 students were on the bus.  The bus incident received considerable media coverage. Brooks tried to return
to Skyline last year after learning to walk again but her lawyer said she had difficulty there with other students.

"She had difficulties, including students suggesting that she was the cause of the collision and responsible for bus driver Bischof's termination," Jones wrote in the $1 million claim filed against the district last year.

"In addition she was written up for dress code violations that were medically necessary,” Jones said.  In the suit, Brooks asks for unspecified “reasonable compensatory damages” for her medical bills and other costs.

The suit states that Mesa schools’ bus driver operated the bus in a way that was “reckless, careless and negligent” when it struck Brooks.  It also states that Mesa was negligent in its maintenance of Broadway and Crismon roads because the driver did not see Brooks .

Both Mesa and the school district deny the statements in the lawsuit. Mack said he expects his client to receive a settlement in the next few months.

Online Article: 
http://www.azcentral.com/community/mesa/articles/20130311mesa-student-hit-by-bus-sues-school-district-city.html