Posted 3/21/18 (Wed)
By Neal A. ShipmanFarmer Editor
School bus drivers are responsible for delivering our most precious cargo, our children, safely to and from school each day. We expect a lot from our school bus drivers. Not only are they expected to keep and maintain the very tight schedule of picking up students, they also have to navigate some of the most heavily travelled roads in North Dakota.
It’s a job that many of us wouldn’t want. But thankfully, there are people who love being a school bus driver. They love the children that they get to meet and greet on a daily basis as they transport them to and from their home and school each and every day of the school year.
And they recognize how much trust and responsibility not only the school administrators, but parents, entrust them with to make sure that every student arrives at school and to their homes safely.
Concentrating on driving a bus loaded with children is a full-time job. Each and every driver needs to be fully engaged as they navigate the traffic both on the highways and county roads that are filled with traffic, but also dealing with busy streets in the city.
So when their concentration and ability to stay focused on oncoming traffic is jeopardized by disruptive activity on the school bus, it is time for the school to address those issues.
Which is exactly what the McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 did last week when the school board unanimously adopted a new bus behavior policy.
One would think that the vast majority of students who are riding our school busses are courteous and kind to their fellow student passengers. And for the most part, they are.
But when bad behavior happens on the school bus, whether it ranges from being excessively noisy to bullying other students, it makes for unsafe driving conditions for the bus drivers. And it impacts the other students.
Yes, kids will be kids. They laugh and have outbursts. No one expects students not to positively interact with each other or to share what is happening in their lives with their friends and classmates while on the bus.
But what should not, and cannot, be tolerated, is when students use foul language or engage in horse play that disrupts everyone on the bus, or when they throw things out of the bus windows, damage or destroy the bus or other students’ property, or hang out the bus windows when it is in motion.
And those types of actions are exactly what the district’s new policy is attempting to address.
Yes, there are serious consequences, such as suspension from school and loss of bus service, for students that choose to violate these policies. And there needs to be serious consequences for those children who think that acting out in disrupting ways is an acceptable behavior on a school bus.
Our school system needs to have a no tolerance level for disruptive behavior in our school busses just as they have in the classroom.