Schools to propose bus safety plan to Dean today

Friday, March 14, 2008 at 1:20am

Nashville’s public school district is slated to present today a plan for school bus safety to Mayor Karl Dean.

As of Thursday afternoon, district officials said a finalized proposal had not been identified. School board members said as of press time Thursday that they had not received a plan draft, though they will receive one prior to the meeting with Dean at 2 p.m.

Ralph Thompson, assistant superintendent of student services, said the finished proposal will include discussion of school bus monitors, seating assignments, and security cameras.

“At this point, it’s not been completely ironed out,” Thompson said.

Acting Director of Schools Chris Henson, who also serves as the financial chief of Metro Nashville Public Schools, said a comprehensive plan could have significant budget ramifications depending on what is proposed and the timeline for implementation.

“There are also numerous things that can be considered from a process and procedure policy standpoint that can make a difference as well, that may not necessarily have cost implications,” Henson said.

The bus safety plan was requested by Dean in a Feb. 28 letter to Henson.

“Recent events have caused me to be concerned about the safety of children who are being transported by [MNPS],” Dean says in the letter. “As public officials and members of this community, our most important responsibility is to protect our children wherever they are, particularly when they are in our care.”

MNPS is currently the target of a class action lawsuit, following the alleged sexual assault of two young special education students traveling in special education school buses. The assaults are believed to have been committed by other students; special education kids of various ages and conditions travel on the same buses together.

The district currently has 15 special education bus monitor positions allotted, 10 of which are staffed.

Henson said a finished bus safety proposal presented to Dean will include cost estimates for aspects of the plan. The district is due to present the plan to Dean over the course of its second budget hearing with the mayor.

The coincidence of school bus safety discussions with the budget hearing was unintentional, officials said, though it may turn out to be helpful. The purpose of the second budget hearing is to provide, at Dean’s request, itemization and prioritization of the contents of a roughly $13 million “additional needs” list proposed by the district.

Filed under: City News
By: courier37027 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Hodl on Mayor Dean. I thought our greatest responsibility as a community was educating our children. Someone else said that greatest responsibility was protecting citizens. Now the most important responsibility is busing and safety?I'll make it easy on you newbie mayor: make the kids walk, or have their parents drive these kids to neighborhood schools. Then dish out truancy punishment for any kids missing school.

By: Fundit on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Make the kids walk AND put hundreds more cars full of parents and kids on the street? That makes a lot of sense!

By: courier37027 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Fundit, indeed I am advocating parents raise and take care of their own kids, including their transportation to school. Burning a few calories and walking within 1.5 miles to school (like the old days) will not hurt the young'uns.And if a parent has to get up a little earlier to drive kids to school, I would bet staying up late at night would come to an end too.

By: Fundit on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Sorry courier, I have sat in too many hook up lines at private schools to agree. Putting a child on a bus is not shirking parental responsibility, it is adding many, many cars to Nashville's already congested roads. Not to mention the danger to kids walking. Are going to provide sidewalks to all the kids walking on the side of the road?

By: courier37027 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Fundit, where you and other folks have kids and where you send them to school are parts of your gig as parents. Sorry if long lines get you down. It is an unfair trade to those not having kids paying for public schools. Be that as it may, I think kids can find their ways through neighborhoods and walk on the correct side of the road, sidewalk or shoulder. Most schools are already in neighborhoods, so a sidewalk or wide shoulder is near. I am yet to see a public school on the I-65 shoulder. Who knows, walking will also slow down drivers in neighborhoods. More pedestrian traffic (by the way, pedestrians have right of way over all other traffic) means better health, more public safety (a house with people walking near it will have less break-ins). Lots of upside here Fundit, and it will save taxpayer money. Sorry you are inconvenienced with your kids and a hook up line. Next time, don't have kids.

By: Fundit on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I always thought you were pretty smart about most issues but on this one, not so much. The lawsuits from kids getting plowed down would cost metro far more than buses on the road.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

That's a pretty stupid idea.

By: artsmart on 12/31/69 at 6:00

This has all been created by Metro period. They do not provide services for special ed kids at all schools just a select few. They then bus them all all over town but give the drivers absolutely no training and no responsibility at all. Metro is of the belief that they deliver the body of your child from point A to point B they have done their jobs. Keep in mind most buses carry 5-6 students with 3 rows of seats yet the driver cannot occasionaly look in the mirror to make sure they are ok. Maybe if Metro would have done the right thing up front it would not have gotten to this point. Also remember 4 children have been raped and or sexually assaulted in the last 1 1/2 years and Metro Schools did nothing.

By: Fundit on 12/31/69 at 6:00

My child rides a special ed bus to a school out of zone in the a.m. and has for seven years. Each year, I meet and talk to the driver, get their phone number and ask them questions about how they monitor the kids. I ask my child questions about what happens on the bus and how the other kids behave. The drivers we have had have been courteous, cautious, sometimes very strict and seem to love these kids. Artsmart, your situation is our worst nightmare and I am sorry Metro is so reactive and hasn't been more proactive. It looks to me like this is what Mr. Dean is trying to accomplish. I will say that when my 6th grader starts high school, he won't be riding that bus. That is when it gets scary for everyone especially when your child is in special ed and some riders are 20 years old.

By: artsmart on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Mr Dean is only doing something because the Department of Justice is now involved. He refused to listen at all we tried and now 2 more children were attacked. The point is everyone has known since 2000 when Metro schools entered into an agreement with the Federal Government to protect these children. Unfortunately they did not follow through. When this all goes to Court the truth will come out and it is sickening. They did the bare minimum and when there was a problem they just hide. Currently there are a number of ways to provide aides without a $5 mil price tag but once again they would never want suggestions, so I guess it is going to cost $5 mil. This is not the first place to put aides on buses and communities have already solved this problem.

By: Fundit on 12/31/69 at 6:00

You are right. And again, as a fellow parent, I am sorry this happened to you and hope everything turns out well for your child.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Order all the new school buses with seat belts. If they don't wear them (to keep them in their seats and out of trouble) they don't ride.(retro fitting is to expensive)

By: courier37027 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Fundit, there will always be liability issues when any entity is involved, especially transportation. Government has deep pockets and is a target for law suits already. Eliminate the government service that people can do better, themselves, and everyone saves. As far as the Justice Department involvement into Metro Schools, this supports my hypothesis.

By: courier37027 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Let's be glad we are talking only sexual assault. Had this crime been a "zero tolerance" issue like smoking or giving an aspirin to a fellow student, you would bet the offending child would have been suspended and arrested immediately.