Lansing School Board members explored recruiting parent volunteers to deal with bullying and other misbehavior by students on the buses that bring them to school.
At the meeting on Feb. 6, Vice President Myra Ford raised issues that were identified by the Ingham County Parent Advisory Committee.
“There were several parents who had some issues that they wanted to share about specific things that they either had observed or had experienced personally with their children on some of the buses,” she said at the meeting.
Ford said she thinks it is important that not only should schools deal with safe hallways, but also the safety on buses as well.
“The concern with parents is bullying on the buses,” Ford said. “It’s the typical things that you see where kids are picking on one another. The bus drivers may see things in the rearview mirror but they can’t be looking in the rearview mirror all the time.”
Ford said she has seen behavior among children get more and more out of line.
“I see a lot of differences in terms of the way kids are brought up,” she said. “Things that were never tolerated when I was young are now more tolerated.”
Schools are supposed to follow a student code of conduct, Ford said. Bus drivers are required to report problems to the building principal, and Ford said they need to start following through.
Janice Marchal, principal of Fairview Elementary School, said her school uses that system to monitor behavior on school buses.
“We have a code of conduct,” Marchal said. “There is a conduct form that bus drivers write up and they give to me if a student misbehaves.”
Marchal said the bus drivers do not see too many problems with conduct on the bus with the smaller children.
“Mostly, they’re obviously very squirrely and they want to stand up,” she said. “They try to sneak to other seats. Every great while there might be a fight on the bus but that doesn’t happen often.”
Ford said the primary responsibility of bus drivers is to stay on the road and watch traffic, which takes priority over watching how children behave.
“There are cameras,” Ford said, “but cameras get expensive to operate.”
Ford said the Lansing School Board and other schools throughout the county are discussing what changes can be done in order to make the public bus system more safe.
“With parent volunteers, it might be a little difficult logistically,” she said. “Does the bus driver have to drive the parent back to their vehicle? It could get complicated.”
Ford said she thinks rules that are already in place need more consistency while the schools decide what new actions to take.