GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – An hour-late school bus filled with Greenville Middle School students got delayed even more last week when the driver refused to move the bus, saying the kids were too noisy.
It was all caught on video by a student whose parent says this is uncalled for, but the district is backing their bus driver.
They say drivers don’t have to go anywhere, even if it means they sit for 45 minutes, if they don’t feel conditions are safe to move. However, they admit tensions are higher because of a driver shortage. The drivers they do have are often being asked to double or triple their routes.
“I was asked to come and help get you all home, but because you choose to make all this noise, I don’t drive a bus with all this noise,” the driver tells the students in the student video.
According to Jenn Butler, her 13-year-old child didn’t get home until nearly 6pm.
“They sat there for 45 minutes approximately waiting to leave the school,” said Butler, whose daughter taped what happened next. “She handed me her phone and I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me.”
At one point an angry father shows up wanting his kid off the bus.
“I promise you everything. This is your last job,” the father screams at the driver, cursing. “These students are not supposed to still be sitting here.”
Butler said she’s not sure she wants her child to ride the bus anymore.
“It makes me nervous to let her get on the bus in the afternoon because she doesn’t know if this man had a gun, his frame of mind. Obviously he was agitated,” said Butler.
Then, Butler said the driver used inappropriate scare tactics to hush the kids.
“I have seen a bus driver have a heart attack. He made it to the middle school. That’s as far as he could make it,” the driver is heard saying.
“She’s telling these kids that bus drivers are having heart attacks because kids talk on a bus? Then don’t drive a bus,” said Butler. “They are going to talk. Let them talk, but to sit there and hold them at a school for 45 extra minutes because you can’t handle a conversation occurring between kids on a bus is unacceptable.”
District spokeswoman Beth Brotherton said the driver and the irate parent will be brought in for questioning.
“Did she wait too long? That’s something we are going to have to discuss,” said Brotherton. “It’s a difficult job and I guess we just want to point out that we don’t feel like her level of treatment of these children was ever inappropriate.”
Brotherton also said the school policy of having a school employee with students until the bus leaves was violated and is being looked into.
“The crux of the problem here is the shortage of drivers,” said Brotherton.
The district is experiencing a driver shortage of more than 50 drivers. They say they are looking to hire more, but this is often a thankless job.