RENO, Nev. – Jackie Miller had reached her limit. Unable to deal with several unruly students on her school bus any longer, she unloaded a verbal tirade after a middle schooler excessively sprayed perfume once again on board, triggering the bus driver’s asthma.
The result was captured on cellphone video taken by a student seated near the back of the bus. A parent that evening uploaded it to TikTok, and millions of views later Miller became an overnight internet sensation.
Immediately after the tongue-lashing, she knew she was in the wrong and decided she would retire, unwilling to continue taking the disrespect. But she was saddened because she loved the rest of the students she transported for Amherst Exempted Village Schools near Cleveland, Ohio. When the superintendent called her that evening to inform her the district was opening an investigation, she resigned.
Local news outlets quickly picked up the story, getting the attention of a local man whose children have had similar bad experiences on their school bus. He set up a GoFundMe account, and to date it has earned Miller over $125,000 for her retirement.
Miller will be at the Peppermill Resort and Casino July 14-19 for the 30th annual School Transportation News EXPO Conference and Trade Show, speaking on the lack of support school bus drivers face and how it is contributing to a national labor shortage. The July 18 session, “Creating & Reinforcing Supportive Environments for Staff Retention & Recruiting,” is one of three dozen presented during the event that begins Friday and runs through Wednesday of next week.
Over 1,000 student transporters are expected to attend the six-day training and networking event.
Also highlighting the STN EXPO is a general session prior to Miller’s presentation on Tuesday, July 18 featuring a physical scientist from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who works on the five-year, $5 billion Clean School Bus Program that is helping school districts, tribal governments and bus companies purchase zero and low-emissions school buses. EPA is accepting applications for a $500 million competitive grant through Aug. 22, following the awarding of $1 billion in rebates last year. EPA is expected to release another $500 million rebate later this year.
The federal funds as well as an increasing number of state mandates for zero-emissions school buses will also be highlighted during the Green Bus Summit on Sunday, July 16, a one-day immersive educational and hands-on experience available to STN EXPO attendees. A panel of school district transportation leaders opens the day with a panel discussing their experiences with electric school buses and how EPA and state regulations that set stricter emissions standards are impacting procurement decisions.
Following a dozen presentations by school bus manufacturers, fuel and energy providers, and technology firms, the Green Bus Summit concludes with the 3rd annual Green Bus Fleet Awards presented by School Transportation News in affiliation with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a ride-and-drive and technology demonstration event.
Keynotes Address Body Language, Aggression on School Bus:
Meanwhile, body language expert Traci Brown opens Monday, July 17 with the keynote address “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire,” which shares techniques she has developed in consultation with the FBI to detect fraud. She says that school transportation leaders can benefit from these same techniques when working with their employees, superintendents, school board and parents.
Renowned school psychologist John Van Dreal keynotes a Tuesday, July 18 lunch prior to the STN EXPO Trade Show on the topic of “Youth Aggression: Identifying Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies on the School Bus.” While working for Salem-Keizer School District in Oregon, Van Dreal developed the Salem-Keizer Cascade Model, a multi-agency student threat assessment system considered by experts to be a leading practice nationwide. He has worked daily with educators, law enforcement, trial court personnel, juvenile justice, and mental health personnel in preventive behavioral threat assessment the management of youth and adult threats of aggression within the schools, institutions, and the community and is sharing an overview of the model with STN EXPO attendees so they can evaluate how to implement it in their transportation operations.
Additionally, Missouri Highway Patrol veteran, school security expert and U.S. Department of Defense facilities inspector Bret E. Brooks will teach closing general sessions on July 19 on “Concealed Weapon Identification for School Transportation Staff” and “All Eyes on School Transportation Facility Security.” At the 2014 STN EXPO, Brooks trained Washoe County Sheriff’s Office S.W.A.T. members on how to breach a school bus in the event of a hijacking and choreographed exercises that demonstrated to attendees how law enforcement will likely respond to various safety and security incidents involving school buses.
Brooks will also teach a Tuesday, July 18 class on “Verbal and Nonverbal De-Escalation Techniques.”
Meanwhile, the STN EXPO Trade Show opens the evening of Monday, July 17 and concludes the afternoon of Tuesday, July 18. It will feature 120 exhibitors showing the latest electric school buses and technology. Attendees will vote on exhibited vehicles, products and solutions to choose best hardware, software, green bus technology, and safety technology.
Hands-on National School Bus Inspection Training covering defects on school buses above and beyond federal and state Department of Transportation requirements will be held Saturday, July 15 at Washoe County School District.
Onsite registration will open July 14 at the Peppermill Resort and Casino.
About STN EXPO:
The School Transportation News North American School Bus EXPO Conference and Trade Show was started in 1994 by company founders Bill and Colette Paul, after they assumed the organization of a meeting of state directors of student transportation at 13 western state departments of education that oversee various aspects of funding, driving licensing and safety programs. Since, the event has grown to over 1,500 attendees from across North America and the world.
About School Transportation News:
School Transportation News magazine is a magazine founded in 1991 that is published 11 times a year by STN Media Group to provide news and nuance that advises industry leaders at school districts, companies and vendors. STN Media Group maintains a news website at https://stnonline.com, publishes white papers, produces webinars, and hosts the weekly School Transportation Nation podcast, https://stnpodcast.com. The company also produces three conferences and companion trade shows each year: the flagship event STN EXPO West in Reno, Nevada, each July; the National Conference on Transporting Students with Disabilities & Special Needs in Frisco, Texas, each November; and the STN EXPO East, which moves to Charlotte, North Carolina in March 2025. More information on in-person STN events can be found at https://stnexpo.com.