Article & Photo Courtesy of:  WBTW.com

HARRELLS, N.C. - The driver of a logging truck who hit and killed a child exiting a school bus now faces driving while impaired charges, according to the State Highway Patrol.

A child was hit and killed by a logging truck near Harrells in Sampson County Tuesday afternoon.

A Sampson County school bus was dropping off a child on U.S. 421 at approximately 3:30 p.m. when a tractor trailer hauling logs passed the stopped bus. The bus was stopped with all emergency equipment activated, Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Jeff Gordon said.

The tractor trailer hit 7-year-old Alyiah Morgan. Alyiah was pronounced dead while being transported to Sampson Regional Medical Center in Clinton.

The driver and tractor trailer were located near Autryville and taken into custody, Gordon said. The driver has been identified as Johnny Allen Spell, 37, of Bud Spell Lane in Roseboro.

Spell has been charged with driving while impaired, felony hit-and-run, involuntary manslaughter and passing a stopped school bus. He is being held in the Sampson County Jail under a $200,000 bond.

Morgan was in the first grade Union Elementary School in Clinton. Linda Carr, principal of Union, told WNCN that the school has several grieving students and staff and the school is providing opportunities for them to talk and share. Union has professional counselors on hand today.

Carr said they live in a great community that is coming together to support everyone.

Passing stopped school buses appears to be a rising problem in North Carolina. The State Highway Patrol conducted "Operation Stop Arm" Oct. 15-19, when it followed 1,000 school buses. The Patrol issued more than 8,000 traffic citations and charged 16 motorists with passing a stopped school bus.

A Harnett County middle school student was hit and killed getting off a school bus in October.

Article Online: 
http://www.wbtw.com/story/22062917/7-year-old-nc-girl-hit-killed-after-log-truck-driver-passed-stopped-school-bus-troopers-say

 
 
Courtesy of:  TheIslandPacket.com

School bus drivers from Beaufort, Charleston and Dorchester 2 school districts will voice their concerns on bus safety, service and working conditions at Durham School Services in a press conference today. The conference will be at 5:45 p.m. at the Embassy Suites on International Boulevard in North Charleston.

After the press conference, members of the union -- Teamsters Local 509 -- will testify at a forum about their concerns, which they believe may affect the safe transportation of students. Trade unionists, civil rights, political and faith leaders from Europe and the U.S. will participate in the forum, according to a news release.

State Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, former National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Fred Feinstein, and S.C. AFL-CIO President Ken Riley, will be on the panel to hear the drivers' concerns. Representatives of National Express Group, the United Kingdom-based parent company of Durham, will also be in attendance, Galen Munroe, spokesman for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said.

The press conference and forum come after months of contract negotiations between the Teamsters and Durham. Teamsters in all three of the school districts --- the only districts in the state that contract with Durham for bus services ---  voted to
strike
, but ultimately reached an agreement with Durham in late February.

In early February, as negotiations were ongoing, Beaufort drivers voiced concerns about safety and bus inspections at a Beaufort County Board of Education meeting. Durham denied those claims, but declined to release maintenance and
inspection records.

About half of Beaufort County's 200 bus drivers and monitors are Teamsters.

Read more here: 
http://www.islandpacket.com/2013/04/16/2465133/school-bus-drivers-union-to-hold.html
 
 
Courtesy of:  MyFOX8.com

WILKES COUNTY, N.C. — Officials said eight Central Wilkes Middle School students were burned on a school bus due to a mechanical malfunction Monday morning.

“All we heard was this big burst,” said 8th grader Jazmine Paredes who escaped through the school bus window. “The bus started shaking a little bit then we stopped and antifreeze was everywhere.”

“We started opening the windows and everybody was pushing to breathe,” said Britney Paredes who cut her leg escaping the bus. “That’s how I got the cuts on my leg because I had to jump out the window.

Wilkes County officials said it happened around 6:30 a.m. on a bus on Winkler Mill Road just west of North Wilkesboro.

Officials said the children were taken to Wilkes Regional Medical Center. They said the burns are not major, but some of the students say they received second-degree burns.

“Everybody started panicking and everybody started crying,” said student Sadie Ortiz, who suffered burns to the back of her leg. “There was a lot of people crying, but mostly yelling,” she said.

Authorities said a heater core or a hose running under the entire length of the bus floor burst, releasing hot water, hot antifreeze and steam. Officials said a belt failure under the hood caused a cooling fan to stop turning, causing the heater core or hose to build pressure and burst.

“We were pushing everyone to get out,” said Ann Jaimes. “As soon as we got out, we were yelling for other people. We are trying to help them.”

Authorities said hot liquid flooded the floorboard a few inches deep and a cloud of hot steam filled the inside of the bus.

Wilkes County officials said they are investigating the heating system on the bus to better understand what happened.

Article Online:  http://myfox8.com/2013/04/08/students-burned-on-school-bus-in-wilkes-county/



 
 
Courtesy of:  Greg Barnes

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- In Cumberland County, there are new concerns for school bus safety after school employees say they're being forced to drive buses next year or lose their jobs.
 
One school cafeteria worker spoke anonymously to ABC11, fearing she could be fired. She said she will lose her job next year unless she starts driving a school bus. 

"I'm scared to drive these kids. They are not going to be safe," she said. "I want parents to know what they are doing to us! People that are not qualified to drive a bus with these kids, it's dangerous."

 Each day more than 26,000 students ride Cumberland County school buses. Now school officials are telling cafeteria workers to get a commercial driver's license or forego their jobs. School officials said the CDL requirement has been a state policy since 1988. 
 
"It's a condition of their employment to obtain a CDL, which enables them to drive a bus if needed," said Tim Kinlaw, of Cumberland County Schools."  Kinlaw said the school system needs around 1,200 qualified drivers, but some school workers are having a tough time passing the CDL exam. 

Cumberland and other school systems across the state are replacing their fleets with newer busses. They are bigger, heavier, and carry more students.

The cafeteria worker who spoke to ABC11 said she tried for two years to get the school system to enroll her in a training class. 

"I don't think it's fair if I signed up and no one has called. And they stay backed up, so it's not fair that I would be out of a job if I have not been called for it," she said. 

School officials said the cafeteria works have until August to get a commercial license and take bus driver training. 

Those workers say it will take a lot longer than that before they feel comfortable behind the wheel of a school bus. 

"I think the driving will be more scarier, you are out there with all these kids and all," one worker said.

Online Article:  http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=9030860
 
 
Picture
This is Maria Jiminez who was a 14-year-old student from GARNER, N.C.

Maria will be laid to rest tomorrow.

She was crossing a highway to catch her school bus and was struck by a car and killed.
 
Her 16-year-old brother was behind her when it happened.

Witnesses say the school bus' stop arm was not fully open at the time.

Authorities say speed was not a factor and no charges have been filed.




(photo courtesy of News 14 Carolina)

 
 
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:  http://www.wral.com/14-year-old-girl-killed-at-school-bus-stop-near-garner/12263943/
 
 
Courtesy of:  ABCLocal.go.com

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- In Cumberland County, there are new concerns for school bus safety after school employees say they're being forced to drive buses next year or lose their jobs.
 
One school cafeteria worker spoke anonymously to ABC11, fearing she could be fired. She said she will lose her job next year unless she starts driving a school bus. 

 "I'm scared to drive these kids. They are not going to be safe," she said. "I
want parents to know what they are doing to us! People that are not qualified to
drive a bus with these kids, it's dangerous."

 Each day more than 26,000 students ride Cumberland County school buses. Now school officials are telling cafeteria workers to get a commercial driver's license or forego their jobs. 

School officials said the CDL requirement has been a state policy since 1988. 
 
"It's a condition of their employment to obtain a CDL, which enables them to  drive a bus if needed," said Tim Kinlaw, of Cumberland County Schools."

Kinlaw said the school system needs around 1,200 qualified drivers, but some school workers are having a tough time passing the CDL exam. 

Cumberland and other school systems across the state are replacing their fleets with newer busses. They are bigger, heavier, and carry more students.

The cafeteria worker who spoke to ABC11 said she tried for two years to get the school system to enroll her in a training class. 

"I don't think it's fair if I signed up and no one has called. And they stay backed up, so it's not fair that I would be out of a job if I have not been called for it," she said. 

School officials said the cafeteria works have until August to get a commercial license and take bus driver training.


Those workers say it will take a lot longer than that before they feel
comfortable behind the wheel of a school bus.


"I think the driving will be more scarier, you are out there with all these
kids and all," one worker said.




Article Online:  http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=9030860
 
 
Courtesy of:  The Charlotte Observer

Seven people, including four students, were taken to Charlotte hospitals Friday after a wreck involving a school bus and pickup truck. The wreck closed Monroe Road for more than an hour.One person was taken to Carolinas Medical Center for what were described as "potentially life threatening" injuries.

The wreck occurred around 4:20 p.m. on Monroe Road near the intersection of North Sharon Amity.

Details about how the crash occurred were not immediately available.

School bus 1914 was from Randolph Middle School, and was carrying four exceptional students and two adults, reports WCNC-TV, the Observer's news partner. They were all taken to area hospitals for observation.

WCNC said one person from the pickup truck had "potentially life-threatening injuries."

The wreck closed Monroe Road in both directions between Idlewild and North Sharon Amity roads, but the street has since reopened.
 
Article Online: 
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/03/15/3917339/school-bus-pickup-collide-several.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
 
 
Courtesy of: By T. Keung Hui — khui@newsobserver.com

Excerpt from full article

Newly released email shows that former Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata spent his final month in office surrounded by growing distress and concern from school board members and parents over his handling of the school bus problems
and student assignment.
 
More than 3,400 pages of email released this week as part of a public records request by news media organizations, including The News & Observer, show how much the bus fiasco affecting thousands of families was a daily concern during the first month of school. Members of the school board’s Democratic majority blamed Tata for the problems in responses to parents’ messages. Democratic board members also accused Tata of trying to undermine them by prematurely releasing a draft student-assignment plan that members said was flawed.

The documents highlight the tense closing weeks of the 20-month tenure of Tata, who was appointed secretary of transportation by Gov. Pat McCrory in January after being fired by the school board in September. The board agreed to pay $253,625 to buy out Tata’s contract.
 
“I do have concern about the ‘trust us’ attitude that seems to come from staff,” board member Jim Martin, a Democrat, wrote in a Sept. 19 email to a parent. “This is what left families like yours unassigned, and what led to the transportation fiasco.”

The bus fiasco

Heading into the first day of traditional-calendar school on Aug. 27, system officials expected some transportation issues, such as longer rides, because of Tata’s decision – with the board’s approval – to save money by taking 52 of Wake’s 933 buses off the road.

Bus problems on a smaller scale had begun as early as July when the start of year-round schools brought parental complaints about late or missing buses. With traditional-calendar schools opening in three weeks, Tata emailed Bob Snidemiller, the district’s senior director of transportation, to ask what lessons the system could learn from the year-round school situation.

But when the bulk of Wake’s 150,000 students returned to school on Aug. 27, thousands of students had to deal with buses that came late or not at all. While bus issues are typical the first few weeks of school, the severity of the problems and the time it took to fix them was far longer than normal.

“I felt we had prepared well,” Snidemiller wrote Aug. 27. “Everything looks different when you go live with a new system than when you do dry runs without the pressure.”
 
Calls for an audit

By the end of the day, Aug. 27, Martin, who often clashed with Tata, sent an email calling for an audit of the transportation system, something his fellow Democrats soon joined in requesting.

Martin, like the other Democratic board members, blamed the choice-based student assignment plan that Tata helped developed for aggravating the situation by increasing by 20 percent the number of daily miles buses traveled. Under the choice plan, which was scrapped by the Democrats, families chose from a list of schools instead of being assigned one based on addresses.

“Please do not respond to Dr. Martin’s email or his directives,” Tata wrote Aug. 27 to Snidemiller and to Don Haydon, who later resigned as chief facilities and operations officer over the bus problems.

Frustrated parents bombarded Tata and board members with complaints about the bus service.

“I can not express in polite words how disgusted I am,” Randy Earl wrote to board members on Aug. 28. “Please rethink your priorities and get them straight  – IMMEDIATELY!”

As the problems continued, Tata frequently asked staff for updates and comparisons with past years, then passed along their messages to the board that the situation was starting to improve. Tata rode on buses to see the problems firsthand. He would ultimately put most of the 52 sidelined buses back on the road while aggressively trying to hire new drivers to operate them.
 
The board ultimately hired a firm that recommended hiring $2.25 million in additional staff to reorganize the “outmoded” transportation department. The board approved the reorganization last month.
 
Read more here:
http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/03/07/2730805/emails-show-distrust-in-wake-county.html#storylink=cpy