Petition over bus driver conduct receives hundreds of signatures

By Heather Meade hmeade@civitasmedia.com

February 11, 2014

GREENVILLE – The father of a Greenville City Schools student was outraged last week when his kindergartner was left at the bus stop unattended. After contacting the bus barn and the administration, he wasn’t satisfied with the response that he was given, he said, so he decided to begin a petition on Change.org that garnered 425 signatures as of Tuesday from concerned parents, grandparents, and many others.

Jake Angles said his 6-year old son, Stephen, began riding Bus 28 in March 2013, and he had “bad vibes” about the driver from the start.

“When my son started riding the bus, I got bad vibes from the bus driver,” Angles commented. “She passes my house, turns around and comes back. When she passed my house on that first day, I could hear her screaming at the kids as she was driving by – you’d have to be screaming pretty loudly for someone to hear it from outside the bus.”

Angles said he and other parents brought the issue to the district earlier this year, along with the issue of children being bullied on the bus with no interference from the driver, and said that no action was taken at that time.

On Monday, Doug Fries, superintendent for the district, stated that the district was unaware of any issues with this driver.

The incident that would drive Angles “over the edge,” he said, happened on Feb. 3, when Bus 28 allegedly arrived 15 minutes earlier than normal, and his son was left on the side of the road om his own.

“She [the bus driver] showed up really early on Monday [Feb. 3], my wife was standing at the door, turned around to check on our 2-year-old, and the bus drove by,” Angles said. “My son told me that he told the bus driver his mom and dad weren’t at the bus stop, and he said she told him he had to get off the bus. There was no one else there. She just pulled away, like nothing ever happened. My wife heard a small child crying, saying he was scared, so she walked out, and found my son standing by the road on Sweitzer Street, crying because the bus driver had told him he had to get off the bus.”

Angles reported that his 33-pound son fell on the ice, scraping his knee, and was scared by the traffic on Sweitzer. His concern was that any number of things could have happened in the time between his son being dropped off, and his wife finding him. He feels that disciplinary action is necessary, given the fact that “this has been going on for years,” according to others he has spoken with, he said.

“I think, since this has been going on for so long, it would be in the best interest of the children to get her away from them, so that she doesn’t have that responsibility…” Angles stated. “I don’t think she cares about the children, she’s just there to do whatever, and she knows she can get away with it. I don’t think anyone in that state of mind should be around children of that age.”

Superintendent Doug Fries said that the district is working through this problem as they would any other problem, getting all angles of the situation, and determining a solution.

“Greenville City Schools always has the safety of every student and employee as its priority. We also work hard to resolve any issue with a positive outcome for all involved to the best of our ability,” Fries stated in an email to The Daily Advocate.

Parents with concerns, questions and comments are always invited to contact the school district, including attending board of education meetings, which are held the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Anna Bier Civic Center of Memorial Hall. The board of education will meet tomorrow evening, and Angles said he plans to attend to air his concerns.