Who's Really Driving Rockwood Student Buses?

A Rockwood School District parent raises safety concerns about last-minute, out-of-state bus drivers who are transporting students this week. He asked at Thursday's Rockwood Board Of Education meeting if all drivers are familiar with safety standards.

Were really ready to take on routes? The answer from the First Student, Inc. transportation contractor was yes; some district parents are not as confident.

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Rockwood parent Russ Graves, who lives near Marsh and Clarkson roads, waited with his Westridge Elementary student for 40 minutes extra for the bus pickup on the first day of school Tuesday. He then waited about an hour for the bus to drop off his child at the end of Tuesday.

On day two of school this week, he said the bus was 20 minutes late.

While Graves said it's understandable to think bus routes will get worked out once school starts, what the First Student bus driver voluntarily told him was what really disturbed him.

Graves said the way he saw the driver handle a turnaround with students involved "sent shivers up his spine." He said he believed it was an elementary safety point, but the driver told him she did not know about it. Graves got the opinion from speaking to the driver that her training was happening "on the job." So he called the First Student student contact listed for Rockwood:  Marilyn at 636-458-2044.

Graves said he explained the situation, but was met with resistance and discourteousness. He told Rockwood board of education directors on Thursday he could not get a straight answer about bus drivers' training, and was displeased his inquiry was not taken seriously.

First Student bus drivers must consent to criminal and traffic records search, undergo screenings for controlled substances, and successfully complete up to 35 hours of training, according to the details posted on the Rockwood School District website about the arrangements.

Graves said he believed this driver should be taken off Rockwood routes until she has completed all required training. He said she appeared to have been driving for five years, and had a clean police record and background check.

He told Patch he was accused of misunderstanding what the driver communicated to him due to language barriers, but he claims to have had a perfectly understandable conversation in English.

At this point, Rockwood parents still are wondering why , for First Student needs, creating a second shortage of drivers here for the district, which prompted First Student to temporarily send in drivers from California to fill in the Rockwood routes. If First Student was 100 drivers short in Omaha, why didn't they send California drivers straight there, leaving the Rockwood drivers who were ready for their routes to take care of them?

Steve Brock August 17, 2012 at 12:35 PM
The reason drivers were brought in from California is because Nebraska has a law only allowing bus drivers from states that physically touch the state of Nebraska.
Marty August 17, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Related note - Channel 5 was evidently following and filming busses with an unmarked car. It scared several kids who observed the filming. I don't know what story they were working on, but that was NOT a good thing...
Julie Brown Patton (Editor) August 17, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Patch has not followed any Rockwood buses, but I have placed calls to the transportation officials this morning to get more details about reactions to what has reportedly occurred this week, and they are all in a meeting. We will provide more information as we can.
russell graves August 17, 2012 at 09:48 PM
what sent shiver down my spine was when I tried to remind her of the correct way to make the turn around , she said . that she didn,t know that no one told her .That is why i exspect there to be more done then a haesty 2 hour crash safty course,for a driver who has gone five years without full and complete understanding of national safty standerds.
russell graves August 17, 2012 at 09:51 PM
this make my question how laxs the the safty training is in California.
russell graves August 17, 2012 at 09:56 PM
in Mr sloan owen words when i exsplaind the situation"thats a pretty big one" . I guess this is still not a big enough problem to risk erroring on the side of caution.
Eileen Tyrrell August 18, 2012 at 03:55 AM
All: Here is another article related to Bus Transportation and Safety. http://www.newsmagazinenetwork.com/2012081722963/parkway-bus-driver-suspended-for-dropping-third-grader-at-wrong-stop-2/ "Kelly said district officials spoke to the mother and told her they were “terribly, terribly sorry, that this should not have happened, and that safety is the No. 1 thing we do every day with kids.”
Julie Brown Patton (Editor) August 18, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Eileen, this article is about a Parkway School District bus, however.
Eileen Tyrrell August 18, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Yes, Julie I realize that. My point in posting is to show 1) Safety issues occur in several districts. 2) Parkway was prudent in taking immediate action when a safety violation occurred; while Mr. Graves experience with Rockwood, when he raised a significant safety violation by his children's bus driver, was quite different. http://crevecoeur.patch.com/articles/district-parkway-bus-driver-s-actions-were-unacceptable


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