JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A concerned mother reached out after son called her claiming he was not going to back it home on Thursday.
Her son was supposed to be dropped off at his bus stop at 4:45 P.M., but instead the bus driver drove back to Lake Shore Middle School.
“My son called me at 5 o’clock, and was like, ‘Hey, Mom. The bus driver just turned around at Commonwealth and Edgewood and is not talking to us,” Jessica Lee said.
She immediately went to the school.
“The bus driver isn’t talking to them. The bus is off. He’s not allowing the windows to go down,” Lee said, describing the scene. “He’s not allowing anything to happen. So, they [the students] are all confused, hot and trying to figure out how come they’re not home.”
She said an administrator came outside and spoke to the driver. He then let the children off the bus, but this was after they were sitting on there for about 45 minutes, according to Lee.
“That’s when I reached out to Action News Jax, because these are unsafe conditions that our children are being put in,” Lee said.
Action News Jax, Meghan Moriarty, reached out to Lake Shore Middle School, the Duval County Public School district, and the bus contractor, Student Transportation of America (STA).
The district responded swiftly saying, “thanks for sharing this. We will look into it and follow up with you.”
Later in the afternoon, a spokesperson with Student Transportation of America sent us this statement:
“Student Transportation of America (STA) is aware of the situation and notified our partners at Duval County Public Schools. Although delays in transportation services are never ideal, the driver sought guidance from administrative staff to resolve a matter on the bus, which is not uncommon. STA drivers receive comprehensive training to ensure safe and reliable transportation services for all students aboard our buses. We are looking into it further to ensure all protocols were met and working with the district to resolve this isolated incident.” - STA Spokesperson.
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The district then followed up sending us this comment:
“We’ve been in touch with transportation, and they were aware of the incident and are investigating it. We should know more by early next week, and I will follow up with you then.”
We asked what happened on the bus to cause the driver to head back to the school.
A spokesperson from DCPS stated, “The transportation team reviewed this incident, including the bus video. Several students were engaging in horseplay despite multiple warnings from the driver to stop. The driver made the decision to return to the school. Students were on the bus for about 15 minutes while the bus driver attempted to reach a school administrator. At no time was the driver overheard on video telling students they could not roll down their windows. While drivers do have the option to return to the school in cases where it is difficult to manage students, communication with their dispatch and approval from the transportation department is required before doing so. Unfortunately, the driver did not follow proper procedure before returning to the school. Any disciplinary consequences regarding the driver’s actions would be handled by STA, as the driver is employed by them.”