|Updated: 9/14/2010 10:04 pm
||Published: 9/14/2010 3:00 pm
Sand Springs is rethinking its school bus policy after two kids went missing Monday. As Fox 23’s Douglas Clark explains, it may put more safeguards in place to make sure drivers know who gets on and off the bus.
In order to make sure all of the kids are off the bus, Sand Springs makes drivers, at the end of their route, walk to the back of the bus, make sure all of the kids are off, and take a flag and bring it to the front. The problem, in this case, is that the kids went missing before the end of the route.
It started with calls from the parents of kindergarteners Joshua Marris and Parker Gibney, wondering why their kids were not dropped off at home. School officials searched Central Academy and the neighborhood, but felt sure the kids were still on the bus.
Dispatch radioed the driver to tell him to look for the two missing kids. he called out their names but they didn’t answer. So then he stopped the bus and walked all the way to the back where he found the two kids asleep.
“It scares all of us. When someone calls and tells us their child is missing, we get very frantic around here,” says Sand Springs Public Schools Transportation Director Jack Plumlee.
School official say the bus driver was new and should have walked the bus immediately, instead of simply calling the kids’ names. The district will now require younger kids to sit up front so they’re more visible to drivers if they fall asleep and don’t get off when they’re supposed to. It will also encourage other kids to speak up if they know where a missing student is.
“What I would like [drivers] to do on an elementary route, after that last elementary student is delivered, to pull over and check the bus before they finish their route and start their secondary route,” says Plumlee.
During the first two weeks of school, Sand Springs made bus drivers take roll call when kids got on the bus, so the district knew where they were. They say they may now bring back that policy, until drivers become more familiar with the kids who ride on their bus.
The school district of Jenks had a recurring problem with students going missing while riding the bus. Last year, it installed an electronic alarm system in every bus that goes off unless the driver walks to the back of the bus at the end of the route and pushes a button. The district says no students have gone missing since the system was installed.