Ad Spot

Public has right to know school bus drivers' records

By Staff
May 5, 2002
The tragic incident in which a 5-year-old kindergarten student was trapped in the door of a Lauderdale County school bus and dragged raises serious questions on several fronts. One is whether the public has a right to know the driving records of the people to whom we entrust the safe delivery of our children to and from the classroom.
The Meridian Star believes parents and the general public have a right to this information. In fact, most parents already know who drives their children's bus. Progressive minded and public spirited school officials should feel an obligation to make the information public. So far in the wake of last Monday's incident, Lauderdale County Schools Superintendent David Little has declined to release specific information, giving rise to parental complaints that he somehow wants to protect the identity of the driver.
A number of parents have called this newspaper, telling of other incidents in which this particular driver has allegedly been involved. They tell us she has been transferred from route to route within the county system because parents have complained loudly to Little, West Lauderdale Elementary School principal Larry Vick and other school officials about her driving.
The county school system has a responsibility to respond to these questions.
If it is true that this so-far unnamed bus driver continued along her route after closing the door on the little girl and did not know she was trapped, she should be fired. There is no excuse for such inattentiveness. If it is true she has been involved in other mishaps during her employment with the county school system, and school officials have done nothing about it, she and the officials should be fired or driven from office. There is no excuse for such incompetence.
Our guess is that the pressure on Little will only increase in the days ahead until he is forced by public demand to release the driver's identity, driving record and an account of the incident.
The second issue involves to whom such incidents should be reported. In this incident involving young Ashton Belk, a West Lauderdale Elementary kindergarten student, the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department was not immediately notified, reportedly because no second vehicle was involved. It would make more sense for any incident of this nature to be reportedly immediately to the county's law enforcement agency, which can  and should investigate the circumstances and make a public report.
We don't doubt the skills of 99 percent of the people who drive county school buses. Most of them are concerned, caring, safe and dedicated, and know they are carrying precious passengers. We would, however, doubt the effectiveness of any policy that simply transfers an incident-prone driver from one route to another. And we support public disclosure of school bus drivers' driving records.

News

Russellville Elementary students celebrate Board of Education Appreciation Month

News

BTCPA stages ‘Bad Year for Tomatoes’

Franklin County

County takes needed steps to continue broadband expansion

News

Russellville High School holds Community Partnership Breakfast to connect with community

News

Sign up now for youth rec sports through March 1

News

Russellville club names Bob Seeley Civitan of Year

Franklin County

New year brings official end to concealed carry permit requirement

Franklin County

Schools recognize Franklin County Board of Education

Columnists

Book Lovers Study Club submits 2022 reports

News

RHS alum receives Keller Key at UNA

Franklin County

Cattlemen convene for annual banquet

Belgreen Bulldogs

Belgreen hires football coach for fledgling program

News

City approves temporary fire department promotions

Franklin County

Commission decides to request bids for elevator maintenance

News

Whimsical window art brightens RPL

Belgreen Bulldogs

Belgreen gets football coach

Franklin County

Martin Luther King commemorative march takes place in downtown Russellville

Franklin County

New district attorney swears in

Franklin County

Cattlemen’s Association prepares for annual meeting

News

Russellville Public Library director speaks at Book Lovers meeting

Franklin County

Vina native returns to hometown church to share her story

Franklin County

Couple continues annual Christmas jail ministry

News

City officials reflect on old year, look toward new

Franklin County

MLK march returns to Russellville this year, set for Jan. 16

x