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Northwest Superintendent sends letter to parents after bus 'situation'

Posted at 6:00 AM, Aug 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-27 08:49:29-04

The superintendent of Northwest Community Schools sent a letter to parents on Sunday as a result of an investigation in a substitute bus driver and the "situation" that happened on Thursday.

In the letter, Geoff Bontrager said the district has finished its review of video of the on-bus cameras.

Bontrager said the bus, number 23, left the elementary complex approximately 10 to 15 minutes late. He added, that's not unusual for the first few days of school, while students, teachers, and drivers are learning new bus routes.

The bus, which was driven by a substitute bus driver, was not familiar with the territory covered in the route, the letter noted.

"The students were asked several times to lower their voices, stay in their seats, and keep their hands inside the windows while the bus was in motion," Bontrager said.

The letter goes on to say, "after a careful review of the on-bus GPS, it was clear the driver took one wrong turn and them promptly corrected."

Bontrager said the driver also stopped several times at the beginning of the route "in an attempt to quiet students and get them safely seated."

The superintendent said that began adding extra time to the bus route.

"As the students were continuing to stand in the aisle and put their hands out the windows, the driver told several students to put up the windows," the letter said.

Bontrager added, "at no time in the route was the heat on the bus ever turned on" and that during the route, "several windows and roof vents remained open."

As a result of the investigation, Bontrager said the substitute bus driver did consider student safety, "but did not respond with the district-expected Positive Behavior Intentions."

The driver will no longer drive for Northwest Community Schools, he said.

Blackman Township Public Safety and the Jackson County Sheriff's Department will decide if further action is taken, the letter said.

"I cannot stress enough that our students are our top priority," Bontrager said.