Courtesy of:

A student was struck this morning by a bus as she was trying to walk across the cross walk. 

It happened around 7:30 this morning when a Bullard High School student was trying to get to school. 

Fresno Police Officer Joe Sacca said the bus was heading eastbound on Browning and was making a left turn on Palm. 

"We do believe from some independent witnesses that the student was in the right of way."

Sacca said the bus driver had just dropped off students at the high school.

"We're still talking with the driver of the bus to try to find out exactly what occurred."

Police said the female student sustained minor injuries to the face and hands and was transported to a hospital.

Article Online:

Courtesy of:  Erin Kourkounis @

A group of Santa Rosa school bus drivers is expected to bring concerns about bus safety and working conditions at Durham School Services to the Santa Rosa School Board Thursday.

During the board’s meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, members will decide whether to grant Durham a five-year contract to operate district transportation. 

In a forum organized by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union last week in Bagdad, Durham drivers in Milton, Pace and Navarre aired their concerns about workplace safety. 

Their concerns ranged from fluid leaks to mold on buses and drivers going to work sick because they cannot afford to take time off. Some drivers say they are yelled at or ignored by supervisors when they bring up concerns. 

About 210 Santa Rosa school bus drivers and monitors work for Durham, the second-largest school bus company in the country and a subsidiary of National Express Group PLC, a multinational transportation company based in the United Kingdom.

Article Online:
Courtesy of:  By Lewis Griswold - The Fresno Bee

A South Valley school bus driver is in jail on child molestation charges, but his employer failed to notify school officials in Kings County about the arrest.  The case began April 2 when Visalia police arrested school bus driver Daniel Lucero, 48, on suspicion of molesting a 13-year-old female family friend several times over several years.

He is in the Tulare County jail on $1 million bail.  Lucero drove special-education student buses in Kings County. School
officials didn't know about the arrest for more than two weeks when an angry parent told them about it.

Visalia police Sgt. Ozzie Dominguez said investigators notified Lucero's employer at the time of his arrest.      
But Student Transportation of America, the employer, failed to notify education officials, said Rick Rayburn, superintendent of Lemoore Union Elementary School District and chairman of the joint powers authority overseeing the bus contract with the company.

The company was hired to bus special education students to Shelly Baird School in Hanford and other sites operated by the Kings County Office of Education.  Thursday, the company issued a statement that the driver had to pass a criminal background check and a personal background check by the bus company before he was hired recently. He has been placed on suspension, the statement said.

"While the alleged criminal activity did not take place during work hours and no STA passengers were involved, we are appalled by the actions of this individual," the statement said.

Rayburn said executives from Student Transportation contacted him Tuesday and apologized for not relaying the arrest information.  Future contracts will likely include a clause requiring timely disclosure of such information, he said.  At the suggestion of a parent, the joint powers authority board will discuss whether extra security is needed, he said.

The parent who tipped off the Kings County Office of Education was upset that parents of students attending Shelly Baird School, where Lucero bused students, were not told about the arrest, Assistant Superintendent Barbara Zaino said.

The parent, who learned about the arrest from a news report, met April 19 with the Kings County superintendent of schools, she said.  It's "standard practice" to send home a letter under these circumstances, Zaino said.  Rayburn on Wednesday wrote a letter for Kings County Office of Education officials to send home to Shelly Baird parents.

The notice, which was sent to homes Thursday, said that Shelly Baird students were not involved, the driver has been suspended, his bus driver's license suspended, the alleged victim is not a student in Kings County and Visalia police said, "There is no evidence to indicate that other children were involved."

Lucero has been charged in Tulare County with eight counts of sex-related crimes, including two counts of sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child age 10 or younger, which carry a sentence of 25 years to life in prison; one count of oral copulation with a child 10 or younger; five counts of a lewd act on a child; and special allegations of substantial sexual conduct.

Read more here:
Courtesy of:  Santa Rosa's Press Gazette

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters was in town this week to meet with Santa Rosa County school bus drivers. At a meeting Thursday night, bus drivers voiced concerns over safety of students, citing many complaints over the conditions of school buses used in the county; treatment by management; lack of basic medical first aid training; being forced to work when ill; and being subjected to verbal abuse by management.
Among those concerns drivers reported in notarized affidavits they've experienced black mold in some buses; bald tires—including retreads on the front of the buses; broken seats; broken two-way radios; no air conditioning; and a panic button that didn't work. Some drivers said they do not have the training to handle specific special needs students placed on their buses. Fifteen school bus drivers in Santa Rosa County signed notarized affidavits stating their experiences and concerns dated March/2013.

Diane Bence is a driver in Navarre for Durham and Santa Rosa County who has a three-page affidavit filed with the Teamsters. She appeared at Thursday's meeting to offer testimony about her experiences as a school bus driver. She says she believes 85% of the buses in Santa Rosa County has black mold. She says in August 2012 one driver, Darla Olson was ill from the mold and was nearly hospitalized. She states the brakes on some school buses have squeaking brakes or no brake pressure.

Bence says in 2011, a dash light came on in her bus indicating an engine problem. When she made the mechanic for Durham aware of the issue, she says he told her to "go ahead and drive your route". She says she did and in less than ten minutes, the bus engine died in the middle of the road with children on board. She says she's driven the school bus with a fever of 103 because there are no replacement drivers and dispatchers and supervisor, Bob Downin, make drivers feel guilty and repeatedly call them to see when they are coming back to work. She also notes at times buses are loaded above safe capacity because of a driver shortage.

A document provided by the Teamsters called the National Express Group Summary April 2013. The National Express Group is the parent company of Durham School Services, according to its website. The reports suggests the complaints against Durham are not isolated to Santa Rosa County, but the complaints appear to be the same in other districts. Specifically, the report indicates violations of human rights and worker rights including employees being forced to drive buses while sick and not being paid for all the time they spend taking their buses in for maintenance; or while cleaning or servicing the bus.

"In Santa Rosa, Florida, some workers have had hours they work in excess of 40 hours per week rolled into next week to avoid paying overtime pay—a practice that violates the Fair Labor Standards Act," the report says.

A complaint filed by Dean W. Phinney - organizer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters filed a charge against Durham, specifically involving Bob Downin, on Dec. 27, 2012. the complaint states: "On or about 12/14/12 at a company sponsored event, area manager Bob Downin, provided a list to unit employees of financial and benefit improvements that were being offered by 
Durham School Services. He went on to state that these improvements were only being offered and given to 'non-union' facilities."

There are other complaints filed against the Santa Rosa Durham office alleging surveillance was done on Union organizers and unit employees by photographing/videoing them at the Milton office.

A Teamster report states workers in Santa Rosa County voted to join the Teamsters by a wide margin - a move that the Teamsters say has prompted objections from Durham.

Statement from Durham School Services regarding the Teamsters and the allegations:

"Durham School Services takes the safety of our passengers and employees very seriously. We are disappointed that the Teamsters sought to cast accusations on the safety of our drivers, our equipment and the services we provide through name-calling and use of anecdotal stories with disputed facts. 
It is unfair to the public in Santa Rosa that the union used this tactic to incite concern and fear throughout the community when in fact school buses are the safest way for students to get to school and Durham is a leader in safe transportation. School bus drivers are the most highly trained, tested and scrutinized drivers on the road. 

We look to our drivers, like the ones in Santa Rosa, not only for safe driving but also to complete thorough pre and post trip inspections and to report any concerns with bus safety, services or working conditions through the multiple reporting channels we have in place.

We will look into the details of the tales told at the meeting but more importantly, we will continue to focus on getting the students of Santa Rosa to and from school safely.”

Article Online:

Courtesy of:  by Chip Yost TLA 5 Reporter

FULLERTON, Calif. (KTLA) — Scary moments as a school bus carrying at least 100 children caught fire on the 57 Freeway in Fullerton on Wednesday.

Officials say the engine caught fire just before 1:20 p.m. near Chapman Avenue.

A truck driver pulled alongside the bus to let the driver know that flames were coming out of the engine.

She pulled over, and so did a few more big rig drives, who helped evacuate the kids away from the burning bus.

No one was seriously hurt. The students from Wickman Elementary in Chino Hills were on their way back from a field trip to Knott’s Berry Farm.

Read more:
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.

Article Online:,0,5673971.story
Courtesy of: The Los Angeles Times

A 5-year-old girl was recovering Tuesday after being hit by a runaway school bus at a Moreno Valley elementary school.

The girl was standing on the sidewalk, waiting to be picked up around 2:30 p.m. Monday at Box Springs
Elementary School just after classes let out for the day, California Highway Patrol investigators told KTLA-TV.
The bus was parked in the driveway of the school parking lot when it began rolling backward, jumping the sidewalk and pinning the girl against a metal fence. There was no driver inside the bus at the time but two children were onboard.

School faculty gave the girl CPR until paramedics arrived. She was hospitalized with a crushed pelvis, a lacerated liver and a collapsed lung.

The CHP, which looks at all crashes involving school buses, says the bus will be torn apart to look for mechanical problems that might have caused the accident.

The school district planned to send out a crisis team on Tuesday for staff and students at the school.

Online Article: