It didn’t take long for a video to go viral today of a Florida school bus driver texting while driving a bus full of middle school students. The woman, who is unidentified in media reports, has been suspended for the act, which was recorded by a student passenger’s cell phone.
The 14-year-old girl was recording the driver to gather evidence that she curses, but the girl ended up recording something far more detrimental to her and the other students. The incident happened to have taken place less than two weeks before Florida’s law to ban texting while driving goes into effect. But even if that law were in effect, it exempts school bus drivers.
The video and report tells more of the story.
Student transporters know, or should know, that when a student with a disability requires a service animal per their IEP, accomodations must be made on the school bus. But what if the school bus driver is allergic to, say, a service dog?
While this may happen on the school bus, and likely has at some point, the challenge was experienced by an elementary teacher in Athens, Ohio, when a student with autism transferred into class. That school district finally reached an agreement with the child's mother, but it raises the question on the type of process used for dealing with a similar situation on the bus.
The National School Boards Association is tracking these cases, and transportation departments should do the same. Logically, the transportation department would replace that driver with another who's not allergic. But things often are not quite that clear-cut.
It is not clear why, but apparently some parents at Hauppauge school district in Long Island, N.Y., object to the enrollment of 10 homeless children at Forest Brook Elementary School.
Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset) told Newsday he has received calls from frustrated parents expressing concern about the new students. Though he would not be specific about their complaints, he stated, "I don't blame a single person for raising questions or concerns as to why their school district that they pay for — and pay dearly for — has to undertake the expense associated with educating any particular individual."
Perhaps these parents are unaware that federal law gives homeless children the right to attend the public school district to which they move or they can remain at their school of origin, with that school covering transportation costs. According to district officials, they had 19 homeless students in the 2012-2013 school year and now have 24. The district has 3,917 students in total.
Barbara Duffield, policy director for the National Association For The Education of Homeless Children and Youth, said the law is designed to ensure that children in transient families miss as little school as possible.
"When everything else in a kid's life is turned upside down, at least school is continuous and stable, and they have the opportunity to learn," said Duffield.
At least one Forest Brook parent thinks her school should welcome those in need. "I don't think this should be an issue," said Joanne Babbino, the PTA treasurer and mother of a special needs student. "Everybody is a person with feelings and value. Their situation may not be the best, but their situation doesn't define who they are."