School bus safety is not just about preventing accidents. It’s also about ensuring children make it to their destination.
An incident involving a school bus serving the Olympia School District reminded us Washington school district officials must do more to protect children.
On November 15, an Olympia boy did not walk out at the first of the three schools on his school bus’ route. Unfortunately, the driver didn’t notice the boy hadn’t left the bus either. After the driver was done, he parked the bus at the bus depot and left. The boy remained inside for another hour, when a Washington State Patrol inspector entered the vehicle to inspect it.
In the surveillance footage released to reporters later, we see the boy getting on the bus along other students right at the beginning of the route. But when the child tries to get up, the monitor appears to tell him to remain in his seat. And before the driver leaves the bus, he never checks the back. Unfortunately, the district does not require drivers to walk all the way to the back to check if the bus is empty. However, at least nine out of the 82 buses the district has have alarms. These alarms go off if the driver doesn’t check the back.
In order to prevent this type of incident from happening, the district said it will install the same alarms on all buses by the end of the school year. Officials are also training monitors, drivers, and mechanics and reminding them about safety policies and procedures to avoid similar incidents.
After the incident, the driver resigned from his position but the monitor went on administrative leave. He was only allowed to return to work after a “thorough retraining,” the district said.
We hope more school districts across the state follow Olympia’s lead. Our children’s safety should always come first.