Bus incident not clear cut

Published 10:25 am Thursday, April 29, 2010

If the Ironton City Schools made a mistake last week in its handling of a school bus incident, the district primarily erred on the side of caution and took extra steps to ensure that every student was safe.

However, while the district did a good job of putting safety first, this incident showed that more can be done to improve communication with parents in case of an emergency.

The problem when a city school bus didn’t drop students off at the designated times. In fact, the bus ended up being more than an hour late.

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The elementary bus driver had to pull over because some of the students were out of control, throwing things and standing up. It was then that the driver noticed a ripped or slashed seat, opting to turn the bus around and go back to the school to determine if one of the students actually had a weapon.

School officials talked with the students while staff fielded calls and contacted parents.

The issue is that some parents were justifiably upset when their children were not at the stops on time and no one had contacted them. School administrators contend they did the right thing by putting safety first.

And both sides are right.

In today’s society, every potential threat must be taken seriously. And it was. The consequences could have been far worse if this was more than just a student using a rock to damage property.

But parents have the right to know exactly what is going on with their children and why. The school district should learn from this lesson and implement a more clearly defined system to contact parents. With a comprehensive emergency contact list, it would have likely only taken 30 minutes to call all the parents.

Everyone involved can be thankful that this situation had a happy ending but nothing is wrong with taking steps to ensure that happens every time.