by Victoria Bowles
Old Town Lansing Staff Writer
LANSING, MI — Lansing School Board Vice President Myra Ford addressed the growing concern for safety and student wellbeing on Lansing Public School buses at the meeting on Feb. 6.
Ford presented concerns brought up at the Parent Community Advisory Committee Meeting held on Feb. 4, where she and Teresa Szymanski, the Chief Operations Officer of Lansing schools, spoke with parents about the issue.
“Teresa [Szymanski] rode the school bus one day and was astounded by what she saw,” said Ford, people who don’t ride don’t understand, and they need to see what is going on. Szymanski could not be reached for comment.
Ford said it is a difficult issue because bus drivers have a responsibility to keep their eyes on the road and prevent accidents.
“The bus can be an open opportunity for kids because they are not buckled in and the temptation is there to cause a stir,” Ford said.
Sometimes it starts between just two kids, and then it becomes more intense, Ford said.
“Bullying is in the eye of the beholder, for the kids on the receiving end it can be frightening,” Ford said.
Parents in the district are looking for new ways to help protect their children on the bus, but some schools already have their own system of handling disciplinary issues.
Bus conduct at Fairview Elementary
Roughly 150 students ride the bus to Fairview Elementary School in Lansing. Principal Janice Marchal of Fairview Elementary School said, “The bus drivers have conduct slips that parents have to sign when students misbehave on the bus.”
When an issue becomes big enough, Marchal reviews the slips and weighs possible options like suspension, she said, the most common reason for slips being loud noises or standing up.
“Riding the bus is a privilege not a requirement,” said Ford, who is encouraging more solutions, including having parent volunteers ride the buses, cameras installed and not providing bus services for students who routinely cause problems.
“I don’t this is unique to Lansing but busses in general,” Ford said.
More than a school bus issue
Although board members and parents are brainstorming solutions to make the school busses safer, the effects can also be felt on Cata busses, which many Lansing students use for transportation to school.
“I’ve had to kick kids off the bus for behavior issues,” said Henrik Christensen former operations supervisor for Cata Transportation Authority, who drove a route that picked up Lansing school students.
Few parents, none of whom offered any comments about possible changes in the district’s school bus policies, attended the school board meeting.
Ford said she does hear a lot from parents that principals are not disciplining children and advises everyone to be responsible for curbing bad behavior.
For further information contact Victoria Bowles, firstname.lastname@example.org, (810) 429- 1079