Courtesy of:  Kathryn Schiliro - Managing Editor @ The Morgan County Citizen - Fri, 04/05/2013

In the preparation of another tight fiscal year, Morgan County Charter School System administration has elected to break down the position of system Director of Operations upon the retirement of Bob Monk, who's currently in that position, at the end of this school year.

At present the position of Director of Operation calls for oversight of not only the school system's transportation function, including the employment of bus drivers, but also facilities and the employment of the system's custodians as well as the Education Local Option Sales Tax (ELOST) fund.

System administration and the school board will absorb the facilities and ELOST aspects of the job, according to Assistant
Superintendent Debra White, in an interview Friday. Custodians will report to their respective schools' principals. System and school administration and the board will collaborate on needs as far as facilities. ELOST funds will be reported on and handled by system administration and the financial officers at the central office.

Morgan County School System's transportation function will be handled by a newly minted position: Transporation Manager. Advertising for that 12-month classified position begins this week on the system's website,, and in this

Qualifications being called for include a Bachelor's in business, education or a related field, three years of experience in transporation supervision, a valid Georgia Class B Commercial Driver's License with the S&P endorsement and computer literacy, according to the announcement.

Preferred experience includes development of public school bus routes and schedules; use of routing software; knowledge about fleet management, vehicle inspection, preventative maintenance, insurance and fuel management; knowledge of state and federal tranportation requirements and regulations; training in transportation safety, evacuation procedures, emergency preparedness and accident investigation; and experience safeguarding special needs students, according to the announcement.

The application deadline is April 12. Following that date, an interview team composed of system administration, bus drivers, parents, community representatives, building administrators and perhaps the state Department of Education Transporation Director Carleton Allen will form a committee to interview candidates to recommend several for Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett to consider. Bennett will interview these candidates and recommend one to the school board for hiring.

Online Article:

Courtesy of:  M. Elizabeth Neal with the Lake Oconee News

MADISON – A Morgan County School System bus driver accidentally abandoned a pre-kindergarten student on a school bus last week after other students had departed the vehicle at the Morgan County Primary School.

The driver left the vehicle in the lot of the bus shop where most drivers park their assigned vehicles during the day.
The child was later found wandering upset and alone near the bus shop by city of Madison workers.

The incident occurred despite an alarm system each driver must disarm by walking to the rear of the bus before departing the vehicle. The alarm was switched off as programmed—meaning that the driver made the trip to the rear of the bus to turn it off—but she somehow missed seeing the child in the process, said Morgan Schools Superintendent Ralph Bennett. Presumably the child was sleeping, he added.

A letter of reprimand was placed in the driver’s file. No other personnel action is planned, he said, adding, “She’s one of our very best drivers.” He would not identify the driver.

According to the Georgia Department of Education Bus Driver Training Manual, school bus drivers can be terminated and prosecuted for a Class IV felony for leaving a child on a school bus.

Bennett said last week’s incident is the first he has encountered since becoming superintendent of schools in 2011.

Article Online:
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.

Article & Video Online:
The National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey is out - as of January 2013 - for the 2011 - 2012 School Year.

For the 3rd consecutive year, GEORGIA leads the nation in child
fatalities at the School Bus Stop (The Loading/Unloading Zone).

While efforts are being made in Georgia to influence the public to respect School Bus flashing STOP lights/signs, what is being done by State Leaders to implement oversight programs in each local school system?  For example, WHY are children forced to cross 2 or more lanes of traffic to catch their school bus?  WHY does the Georgia Department of Education NOT track non-fatality accidents related to School Bus incidents? 

This data MAY provide empirical data which would enable leaders to identify trends impacting safety.  It may also assist leaders of pupil transportation in the development of state-wide programs that could minimize or even PREVENT future child injuries and/or fatalities.

In addition, there does not appear to be a consistent state-mandated School Bus Maintenance monitoring policy which holds local school system transportation directors/managers to report maintenance records on a monthly or even a quarterly basis.

We Georgians worry about voting FOR or AGAINST Charter Schools and rely on external agencies to audit financial or moral ethics of our School Boards.  When will we begin to focus on the lack of systematic processes our elected officials have in place to govern the safety of School Bus transportation?  Why would ANY local school system allow the leader of school bus operations - who does not possess the licensure requirements (i.e., CDL) of that required of a School Bus Driver - to run a pupil transportation department?

When was your child's School Bus last inspected?
What qualifications does your local school system director/manager of pupil transportation have?
Has your school bus driver received the required, state-mandated training (i.e., Abuse Mandatory Reporter, Air-brake, etc.)?
Are you certain proper bus maintenance is being performed to ensure your child's safety?
Does your local school system have a "No Bullying" program? (Bullying frequently occurs on the school bus)

Your tax dollars are being spent on the above and you - YES YOU - have the right to know.

The National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey can be found by clicking on the link below:  (2011 link)
Courtesy of: Jenna Sachs

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Her son was in a school bus accident, and a Milwaukee mom says his school never called to tell her. She says she actually had to fight to find out what happened — and part of that fight included calling FOX6 News.

“When my child is in their hands, on their time, they’re reliable,” Patrice Johnson said.

The school bus that drops off Johnson’s eight-year-old son Amarion and his two brothers arrived late on Wednesday, March 13th.

“They all walked in, he dropped his backpack and fell to the floor.  I said,‘what’s going on?’  He said, ‘we was in a school bus accident,’” Johnson said.

Johnson noticed some swelling around her son’s eye. “I hit my face on the seat,” Amarion said.  Worried about a concussion, Johnson took Amarion to the ER.  “He was checked out at the hospital, through the ER and they found that he had bruising and swelling,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s son attends the Business and Economics Academy of Milwaukee, where a sign reads: “exceeding expectations.” However, Johnson says her expectations were not met.

“I asked them, ‘why wasn’t an incident report filed?  Why wasn’t my child checked out?’  They said, ‘we sent the firemen on the bus and asked if the kids were okay.  Two kids were taken off the bus,’” Johnson said.  There is still debris in the street at 19th and Nash, where the Lakeside School Bus Company says a driver ran a stop sign and hit the bus.

“The car was totally smooshed in the front, on the right side of it.  Pretty banged up, and it was a really bad accident. I could tell,” Yvonne Lasley said.

The bus company says they immediately notified the school district. MPS says the school has a charter contract and the district is not involved in its day-to-day operations.

Still, a spokesman says: “The school notified the parents of students who reported injuries. Our expectation is that schools notify all parents of those involved in a situation such as this one. The school will make certain this expectation is followed in the future.”

“I had to get on the phone and make phone calls this morning in order for me to get answers,” Johnson said.

Officials say the individual who struck the bus was arrested for OWI (first offense).

Article Online:
Charter Founder Profits; Students Struggle
Courtesy of Jarod Apperson's "Grading Atlanta" Blog:
From its headquarters one block south of Wall Street, Mosaica Education claims to operate with a simple mission: “To empower students
to learn and achieve – every child, every day.”
This for-profit charter management company was founded in 1997 by Sandy Springs resident Gene Eidelman and has since expanded to a
network of 90 schools, generating more than $125M in annual revenue.  For several years, Inc. Magazine has ranked Mosaica as one of the fastest growing companies in urban America.[i] 
Unfortunately, students attending schools managed by Mosaica have not seen their educational trajectories rise with the management
company’s revenue.  Instead, Mosaica’s students around the country consistently underperform their peers.
Mirroring the organization’s national record, Mosiaca’s local charter school, Atlanta Preparatory Academy (APA), is one of
Georgia’s worst performing schools on annual exams, with students in all grades  scoring in the bottom 20% statewide.

Full blog story:
Thomas Ray - founder/author of this websiite - performed a 5-county comparative study of School Bus information made available to students, parents and community members in a rural Georgia region.  This analysis was completed on 11/13/2012. 

One school system - Morgan County Schools - just updated their School System website and have not included information relative to School Bus Transportation information available.  Morgan County is a Charter School system.

Thomas Ray has provided the School System's Superintendent with the following study.  Considering Georgia leads the Nation in School Bus Stop-related Child Deaths and Injuries @ the School Bus Stop, school systems MUST provide ready access of Pupil Transportation information to the public. 

The 5-county comparative study is below:
File Size: 19 kb
File Type: docx
Download File

The Morgan County School System's website link is below:

How do we entice great teachers to remote rural schools?
9:51 am November 18, 2012, by Maureen Downey

Author's response:

Unfortunately, having a great teacher in a rural Georgia school is not the only issue impacting our kids’ ability to learn.

In 2001, Ohio University completed a 5-state study – and yes – GA was one of the 5.  I know how cranky I can get on my commute to work but I’m an adult and can adjust.  I can’t imagine how our kids can be physically or intellectually
prepared to learn – after a 1 hour + morning School Bus ride.

In addition, with budget cuts and the fear that some school bus drivers have that they may lose their jobs if they report bus safety or maintenance issues (per AJC articles RE: Cobb County school bus drivers), bus break downs are happening more often than any of us know. 

Do you know when your child’s school bus was inspected last?  If you don’t, find out.

It took me almost 6 months to get Morgan County Schools (a rural system) to train some school employees on how to ID and report suspected Child Abuse.  Yes, 6 months…for training that is State-mandated for school system employees…and
now…mandated for school volunteers.  

Too bad they fired a dedicated school bus driver – just after she reported suspected Child Abuse to her Supervisor.  She had never received the State Mandated Reporter training but still reported anyway.  Soon after the School Bus Driver made the report, a 911 call was made from the child’s home.  The School Bus driver was placed on administrative leave and later fired.

If rural school Administrationators can’t train their own employees on a 1-hour, STATE-MANDATED training – I’m not sure the best Teacher available can make a difference.  A GREAT Teacher can’t stay great – if the school system’s
foundation is not solid enough to support her/him.

If interested, “The Rural School Bus Ride” study can be found @ the link below.  Take some time to review the impact to minority children in these rural towns.–studies.html

Twitter:  @ThomasConcerned

Reporting by Robin Rieger

“I did everything I could,” said a clearly shaken Christine Williams.  She is the driver of the Safety Bus Service school bus that went off the road and hit a tree Monday afternoon on the Garden State Parkway. She had 36 students on board from a Somers Point charter school. 

Williams’ ex husband Paul Williams says she described the incident to him.

 “She said the tire came off and the bus was still running, still rolling. she said then all of a sudden the bus was pulling to the right,” said Paul Williams.

The bus Williams was driving was taken out of service during a state inspection October 18th for bald tires according to the motor vehicle commission.

Read more:
By David Chang and Dan Stamm                                                                     

Nearly three dozen people were hurt when a school bus carrying students from a South Jersey high school crashed into the woods along the Garden State Parkway Monday afternoon. 

Investigators were on the scene into the evening as they tried to figure out what caused the "Safety Bus" company bus carrying Charter High School students to leave the roadway just before 3:30 p.m. near mile-marker
34 northbound in Egg Harbor Township.

The bus appeared to skid off the road and crash into some nearby woods -- leaving pronounced tire tracks in the grass shoulder.

Read more: