Video highlights student safety challenges on school buses - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Video highlights student safety challenges on school buses

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Michael Raisor Michael Raisor

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Exclusive video raises serious questions about the safety of children on board some Jefferson County Public Schools buses. Students standing in the aisles and sitting on the floor while the buses were moving, some at interstate speeds, is dangerous and needs to stop according to school district leaders.

From behind JCPS bus 0327 the laws are clearly marked for other drivers. On board, no one seems to be enforcing the district's own safety rules.

Students stand and cross back and forth between seats. Two others sit on the floor as the bus driver travels more than 55 miles per hour down Interstate 64. All this is happening as a JCPS bus monitor looks on.

"I was disappointed," said Michael Raisor, the JCPS chief operating officer, who reviewed the video. "That's unacceptable behavior."

Raisor said students who aren't "compartmentalized" or sitting in their seats facing forward are at a much greater risk of injury in an accident. As recent events have shown, accidents with JCPS buses can happen anytime, anywhere.

District policy is that students remain in their seats at all times. That policy that was not being enforced on one JCPS bus where two middle school students stood in plain view as the bus traveled down Muhammad Ali Boulevard, entering the onramp, merging into interstate traffic and before heading north on I-71. All the while the students were out of their seats, and potentially, in danger.

Raisor said enforcement falls primarily on the driver, who has the option of reporting it to the schools for possible discipline. That option is typically reserved for the most extreme misconduct. As evidenced on another JCPS school bus, where the driver approached 60 miles an hour on the Shawnee Expressway with a student standing right behind him, students getting out of their seats doesn't appear to top the list of concerns for some bus drivers.

It is a concern for JCPS however. In the 2012-2013 school year the district started a new program called "see something say something" encouraging students and parents to report those who aren't following the rules. JCPS is spending $1.2 million installing cameras on all JCPS buses so the district can keep a closer eye on what's going on. Raisor said the latest video only reinforces the need for those initiatives.

"What you saw is highly irregular from what happens on our buses each day," Raisor said. "But at the same time, we take that extremely seriously, and I said it's unacceptable and it should be dealt with."

Raisor would not discuss what action was taken against the drivers in the buses we recorded citing rules on employee privacy. He said two of the three were substitute drivers while also noting that is not an excuse.

Part of the problem JCPS has taking action against kids who are out of their seat on the bus is that if those students get kicked off the bus they don't get to school. In the end, the district's mission is to educate children.

Raisor hopes parents will talk to their children to teach them the importance of following the rules for their own good.

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