Zero Tolerance for School Bus Violence - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/13/04

Zero Tolerance for School Bus Violence

Surveillance video from a Florida school shows the brutal beating. Surveillance video from a Florida school shows the brutal beating.

It was a bus ride gone wrong in Jacksonville when at least seven students ganged up and beat on a 12- year-old middle schooler. The incident, caught on the bus' surveillance camera, lasted 30 seconds, but the bus driver didn't step in or try to stop it.

The good news is that the youngster was not seriously hurt and is in a new school now. The school suspended the seven students indefinitely and put the bus driver on administrative leave.

What about your children? We looked in to protecting your kids on the ride to and from school. Savannah school officials admit they have seen an increase in school bus-related disturbances and violence. Now they have come up with some school bus policy changes. Some have already been put in place, others will go into effect in the fall. They're hoping to avoid anything like the violence seen in the Jacksonville security video.

James Harvey is the communications director for the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education. He says, even before seeing the brutal Florida video making headlines, school officials were busy putting in place a new policy for school bus disturbances. "We want our kids to have the best possible instruction, and that instruction begins the moment they step foot on the school bus," he said.

From now on, there's zero tolerance regarding school bus disturbances. The bus safety problem isn't new in Savannah. More than a year ago, bus driver Florence Prayto described the wild bus rides she had navigate. "They like to hang from the windows, they like to cuss, they like to horseplay, they like to fight," she said.

Some say kids will be kids. James Harvey hopes zero tolerance will save someone's child from a beating like that in Jacksonville. "When you do something like this, there will be consequences," he said.

The zero tolerance policy went into effect three weeks ago. Already, two students have been kicked off their buses. Another change coming up in the fall is bus passes. Students will need one of these passes in order to get on the bus. The pass will make sure the right child is on the right bus, and not just looking for trouble.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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