A partial solution is no solution at all
May 19, 2002
The Lauderdale County School Board has taken a tentative step in what should become a comprehensive review of its school bus safety program. By accepting the resignation of bus driver Michelle Smith who will remain on the job as a physical education teacher's aide at West Lauderdale Elementary School the board dealt only partially with a single situation.
The public still does not know the details of the incident in which a child was caught in a school bus door and dragged. The public has a right to this information and school board members should feel obliged to release it. The public has a right to know the driving records of school bus drivers, and the school board or superintendent's office should make that information available, too.
In our opinion, school officials have found a convenient legal cover for not immediately releasing a full report of the April 29 dragging incident. Regardless of whether the family of the now 6-year-old student has hired a lawyer and regardless of whether a lawsuit may be filed, the facts of this case should not change.
On a larger scale, the county school board needs to identify the specific steps it will take to ensure that such incidents never happen again. We realize that, unfortunately, accidents involving school buses and other vehicles can happen. But we can think of no legitimate reason why any student would ever get caught in the bus door.
The county school board should immediately launch a comprehensive review of its school bus safety program. This effort should involve board members, administrators, parents, teachers, students and law enforcement officials. It should include a stronger mandatory education component, both for bus drivers and students who depend upon them for safe transportation to and from the classroom.