Bus Passes to Be Issued in Savannah-Chatham

They're keeping a tight rein on rowdy kids riding the school bus. Yesterday, our cameras went along for a ride on one of Savannah-Chatham school district's worst buses. In recent weeks, school bus drivers across the Coastal Empire have come under fire, and safety on the big yellow taxis has been put under a microscope.

We found out how tough a bus driver's job can be, handling a bus full of kids ages four through 11 years old. Will bus passes help curb those rowdy bus rides? With more than 50 kids, all riled up after a long day at school, whether they are behaving or not, it still can be a wild ride. The school district hopes bus passes will help keep them on their best behavior.

"There's nothing you can do to get them to calm down," said bus driver Marjorie Brown. Brown has been driving the school bus for 14 years. This year has been bad. "They throw pencils at each other, hit each other, fighting," she said.

Starting next school year, they'll need passes to get on the bus, and if they start a fight or throw something out the window, they will get the pass taken away.

School officials say there are no second chances. "They are immediately suspended for the remainder of the school year, no exceptions," said the district's transportation guru George Bowen. He claims school bus problems have dropped since last year. He says the strict bus pass policy should only help.

"If it's enforced and the school works with the drivers, it will be good," said Brown. She says bus drivers need all the help they can get. After all, the kids have all the power. "They know they can do anything they want to do, and all I can do is drive."

The bus passes have already been issued to the high school and middle school students. They will go district wide next fall. Bus drivers will still use write-up sheets, and it will be up to the principals to decide whether a student gets a bus pass taken away or serves some other kind of punishment.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com