School bus drivers want respect, discipline enforced on buses

Friday, Feb. 17, 2006






Prince George’s County school bus drivers packed the school board hearing room in Upper Marlboro Feb. 16 to protest what they said was constant misbehavior by, and lack of respect from, rowdy students.

The drivers complained they had had enough of breaking up fights, dealing with unruly children and asking for help from administrators who they claim ignore the dangerous environment on school buses.

The drivers also said when they submitted written complaints about students who violated safety rules, administrators and principals offered little help, and kept the offending students on the buses.

‘‘It’s become the norm for administrators to ignore these problems,” said bus driver Karen Patton. ‘‘What happened to the student code of conduct?”

Last week’s bus shooting incident near Crossland High School in Temple Hills, where two young men fired at a school bus after disembarking, prompted the protest, organized by AFSCME Local 2250, the bus drivers’ union.

The drivers also said they receive little support from parents after they (the drivers) submitted disciplinary referrals on unruly students.

‘‘The parents say I’m picking on their kids,” said Lynn Stamp, a 19-year bus driver. ‘‘One parent met me at the bus stop and cursed me out for writing up his student.”

Drivers said they wanted extra adult supervision on the buses. They asked that attendants, commonly found on buses for special needs children, be placed on all school buses.

Howard Burnett, interim schools’ CEO, said that both sides realized that option was too costly. He said using surveillance cameras on some buses might be an option.

E-mail Guy Leonard at gleonard@gazette.net.