The Manteca Unified School District is making it clear despite claims circulating on social media that the bus driver involved in the incident that occurred last week at New Haven Elementary School that led to a verbal exchange between parents and the driver did not hold students “hostage.”
According to a follow-uo statement on Tuesday the district said the bus was supposed to leave New Haven Elementary School to take students to several stops was delayed by up to 35 minutes after the driver requested the intervention of an administrator due to what was perceived at the time as a safety issue. More than 30 minutes after the bus was scheduled to leave and the administrator didn’t show up, the driver then decided to continue with the route as scheduled.
It wasn’t until the driver had left the school that the call was made at the district office for the bus to return to New Haven where another bus was waiting to help divvy up the remaining students and split the number of stops so that students were not further delayed in their arrival.
The initial reports about the operator driving “erratically” were not, based on the district’s evaluation of video footage and available GPS tracking information, substantiated.
“After receiving the available video footage and the GPS tracking system, we can accurately state the bus operator was not driving ‘erratically’ as described by concerned parents,” the statement released on Tuesday said. “The operator remained at New Haven Elementary School for almost 35 minutes prior to beginning the route to transport students to their destination.”
What was perceived by some parents who had showed up at the school as the driver not allowing them access to children who were on the bus was, according to the district, a decision made by the driver after tensions at the school site were escalating and out of an abundance of caution for the remaining student that was still on the bus. As tensions escalated and the driver was communicating with parents to determine legal guardianship so that students with parents present could be driven home, the hostility prompted the driver to close the bus door – as they have been trained to do – until the matter was resolved. A teacher who was on-site at the time identified the parent and stepped in to provide communication which ultimately led to that student being released.
Initial reports on social media went so far as to accuse the driver of attempting to “kidnap” students, but reviewed evidence proved that narrative was false.
“Bus operators are responsible for making critical decisions daily regarding student safety,” the district’s statement read. “We entrust our bus operators with upwards of 65 students at any time while safely driving a school bus.
“Operators take that responsibility seriously and are trained extensively.”
To prevent repeats of what happened, the district is urging parents to take advantage of a system that will allow them to track where students are at any given time while in transit between school and home using the “ZPass Plus App” that the district makes available as a mobile application. For additional information or instructions on how to download or utilize the application visit www.mantecausd.net/transportation.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.