Cadiz parents bring up busing issue

CADIZ – During a recent Harrison Hills school board meeting, Cadiz parents brought up an issue dating back to December when two first-grade children were apparently left briefly unattended when they were dropped off at Bishop John King Mussio Elementary School in Steubenville.

The mother said she was informed of this by the elementary school on Dec. 17. She said school had not started and the building was vacant.

The parents criticized the bus driver for not making certain the children had been taken inside by the school staff before continuing the route.

“It’s common sense. If there’s no one there at this building, you don’t let the kids off,” the mother said, noting the young age of the children and the dangers of the Steubenville area. The parents asked that the bus driver be reprimanded.

According to a release from BJKM school, the teacher in charge of before-school care arrives between 7:20 a.m. and 7:25 a.m. each school day, and school officially starts at 7:30 a.m.

Board Member Melvin Allen, chair of the transportation committee, said the bus GPS records show the children had not been let off the bus before 7:30 a.m. He said he doubted the driver could have determined if someone was awaiting them.

Director of Operations Ed Kovacik said an exact date of the drop-off has not been provided, so he has reviewed bus records recorded by GPS through the entire month of December.

“Not once were we there before 7:30 a.m. ever,” he said, noting the records include which direction the bus was traveling. He added the information was shared with BJKM officials and the school could not say when the mistake took place.

He added BJKM did not have anyone awaiting the children outside, although there were attendants inside. The Ohio Revised Code requires that pupils in the loading area be properly supervised by the building principal or designee.

“My best indication is (the driver) was there on time, dropped the kids off, they walked down, the person who was supposed to be on duty was not, or the door was locked,” he said. “It’s the school’s responsibility to be there at the drop site and to monitor that site.”

He added the Ohio Revised Code states that drivers are not permitted to leave the bus except when loading or unloading preschool or special needs children.

“My bus driver cannot get off the bus. They are not allowed,” he said.

He added if he believed the bus driver was in the wrong, there would have been action taken.

“We do not put up with that kind of thing going on. There have been reprimands for many things with bus drivers when they do something they’re not supposed to and they’ve been instructed otherwise. Never think that’s not an issue. It’s too important,” he said.