by TomL

There are so many incidents about school bus drivers that were thrown to the wolves, I decided to write about it.

The schools in our country are riddled with children that should have a different environment, not the school system. Children that can’t learn for one reason or another are put into a contained room at school all day. Not being allowed to leave could make things worse. They eat, use the bathroom, spend the day in the contained unit. Yes that is what they call it “containment unit!” I guess you can say it’s a type of restraint and they are “physically” taken if needed to a school bus where the driver is expected to take them home safely. Being contained all day probably has them on edge. That is why I say there needs to be a different environment, not prison school (containment unit). They need  one school per county just for the challenged and their parents need to drop them off and pick them up. Just escorting or sending the children to the school bus is not enough. Allowing this to happen is poor leadership.

Last month I wrote about a school bus driver that had her career ruined because the school pressed child abuse charges against her for doing her job. A child punch the bus aide in the face. The child also hit the aide in the head with the buckle of the seat belt. The school bus driver saw the altercation, went back and restrained the student for seconds to protect the aide and get the child safely buckled into his seat. The law reads the bus can’t move unless the children are buckled in. The School pressed charges against the School Bus Driver. Now the bus driver has a record and facing child abuse charges. Does this sound right to you? Some children are not in school to learn. In fact the school is being used as a baby sitter. Get involved. Tell the school to drop the charges against this bus driver and change the rules to control what children are allowed to do. This story has prompted many stories to come out. Here is one that happened to my wife some years ago. If you want to read the first story go to click on Ocala DownTown current issue. It’s on the front page of May’s edition.

Here is another example of school bus driver’s unfair treatment. This ex-driver was a school bus driver of 10 years. She loved her job and she liked the people around her, including her supervisors and she loves children. This one morning, first morning of school, still dark, she did her bus inspection, walking around the bus. The grass was wet. Finishing her inspection, she went to get into the bus, her feet were wet. When her feet hit the rubber mat on the top step which had been finished with Armor All, her foot slipped and she went down into the stairwell. The fall split the bone in her leg all the way up into her knee cap. She was in a lot of pain. When the bus portable supervisor realized she was hurt they immediately check protocol. She was put into the back seat of a compact car (no ambulance) and taken to the workman comp clinic (not the emergency room). They x-rayed her and reported she had a bad break, put her in a temp cast and set an appointment with a surgeon. She had surgery two days later. They put her back together with bolts and pins and put her in a cast and sent her home in a wheelchair with her leg straight out and said keep it that way until you come back. To use Armor All on school buses was against the rules, but nothing was ever said after the accident. It had been done by the bus driver the year before to pass year end inspection of the bus.

The injured bus driver cried probably every hour or so for the next ten days in pain. But four days after the surgery, the surgeon signed papers that said she was fit to go back to work. She is in a wheelchair with her leg straight out, taking pain medication and she is deemed fit to work. I went to the surgeon’s office, confronted him and called him an incompetent fool! Later on, I was told the school board made a deal with the surgeon to get employees off of workman’s comp and they would give him their business as the workman’s comp surgeon. By this time I was no longer allowed in the surgeon’s office.  Our private nurse took her to her appointments, which were many.

I went to the workman’s comp doctor and told him what had happened. I told him that I called the surgeon an incompetent fool and it was medically impossible for her to go back to work. He said the school system wants their people back on the regular payroll instead of on workman’s comp. My wife needed a full time nurse for several months so I could work. She needed assistance to go to the bathroom, bathe, could not cook, actually could do nothing at doctor’s orders, but she was fit to work.

This is part that will surprise you. I called her supervisor and told her what was going on and she said “if they release her for work she must report to work”. I explained she needed a full time nurse and could not report. The supervisor said again, “if they release her for work she must report to work”. So she had to call in sick using her 10 years of employment accumulated sick pay. You see she did not call in sick but once or twice in ten years. After the sick pay was used up, using a walker she went to see her supervisor. She was a totally different person. The supervisor was cold and acted indifferent. A few months before, she was very friendly. The supervisor statement never changed. The doctor said she was fit to go back to work. The next scheduled year of school, part of the annual test was to jump out of the back of the school bus. The doctor said no! She was terminated! They said she could not perform her duties.

We hired a workman’s comp attorney. The state of Florida put a limit on the amount of money an attorney could charge on a workman comp case. At the end you find yourself in a room with the arbitrator with no representation. My wife would not walk out of that meeting, she still had some idea she would go back to work. At the end she got her pension which she was entitled to, they paid the hospital bill, reimbursed her sick pay and that was it. Nothing for dedication, nothing for being loyal and she was very disappointed in the way some of her so called friends / supervisors treated her. No supervisor called to see how she was but a couple of bus drivers did call her every day and are still her friends. She was told “once she hired an attorney she would never go back to work for the school system.” She is now working a job for 9 1/2 years. She still does not call in sick, only this job has no benefits.

Fast forward a year later I saw the surgeon having lunch with his office manager. I repeated what I had said previously in his office that day a year before. I gave him an unwanted update on my wife losing her job. I never saw him again. A friend told me he moved his practice out of county. He should have been shut down for making a deal!

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