Charlton County school bus driver back behind the wheel, some parents are upset by decision

Folkston, Georgia parents are upset with the county school superintendent's decision to keep a bus driver on the road. He was disciplined after being caught on camera driving around the railroad crossing arms, which is against policy.

CHARLTON COUNTY, Ga -- A few weeks ago a Charlton County school bus driver was caught on video crossing going around the railroad crossing safety arms on Bowery Lane. The safety arms were malfunctioning.  
 
"There should not have been any reason for him to zig-zag that bus across that track," Jasmine Hewitt said.
 
This week the driver was allowed to drive again. Hewitt is stunned to learn he is back behind the wheel of  bus #17.
 
"He should have known better and he did it not once, but twice in the same day," she said.
 
Hewett today decided to drive her sister's four children to school instead of letting them ride the bus.
 
"When I found out he is back driving I said no," she said. "I will drive 30 minutes to come take them to school."
 
 Now she and other parents question the school district's decision.
 
"We have no way of knowing if it is going to happened again," Hewitt said. "They can say what they want to say, we just don't feel enough action was taken.
 
School Superintendent John Lairsey said the Charlton County School System is committed to the safety of our students at all times.
 
He provided the following statement:
  • The bus driver in question was immediately removed from the bus
  • A thorough and complete investigation was conducted
  • Representatives from the Georgia Department of Education’s Pupil Transportation Division were informed as well as a local officer with the Georgia Department of Public Safety
  • Disciplinary action has been taken
  • The driver has undergone retraining concerning the safety at railroad crossings and will have on-going training for the foreseeable future.
  • A supervisor with the school system will observe his driving as needed
  • The bus driver has now been allowed to return to the bus
 "I don't think he should be back period," Hewitt said.
 
Parents say they've lost confidence in this driver and they wanted the district to take a tougher stance.
 
"Even if someone says, oh my kid doesn't ride that bus that is not my problem, this should be everybody's problem, this is a public concern," Hewett said.
 
The superintendent is confident they've made the right decision. In his statement to the On Your Side Team, he expressed he is willing to listen to the parents' concerns.
 
He wrote:

"While we are always concerned about the safe operation of our buses, we do feel confident in the ability of this driver to return to the bus.  He is a veteran driver with over 12 years of experience in our school system.  We do encourage members of our community and parents to contact us with concerns about pupil transportation."

 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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