No Bus for Bullies
by Kati O'Hare
Sep 27, 2012 | 1751 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SAFE BUS – Veteran drivers Tia Reichert and Don Delgado of First Student in Montrose say First Student’s new No Bus For Bullies program will show results by the end of the year. (Photo by Kati O'Hare)
SAFE BUS – Veteran drivers Tia Reichert and Don Delgado of First Student in Montrose say First Student’s new No Bus For Bullies program will show results by the end of the year. (Photo by Kati O'Hare)
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School Bus Drivers Provide a Safe Environment for Their Passengers



MONTROSE – Bullying comes in many forms – from name calling to physical harm – and the fear of being bullied is the cause of more than a half-million students to miss days at school every year.

Bullying takes place everywhere, from the playground to the classroom, but in Montrose County, authorities are working  cooperation with the school district to make sure that students can feel safe from torment by their peers on school buses.

"We don't want kids not to want to ride the bus," said Carmen Hays, location manager for First Student in Montrose. "We want kids to feel safe on our buses."

Over the summer, First Student, which supplies Montrose County School District its bus services, for both regular routes and field trips, created the program, "No Bus for Bullies," which is designed to stop bullying and let students know they can feel safe in reporting bullying behavior to bus drivers.

"As drivers, we get to know our kids," said 18-year-veteran bus driver Don Delgado. "We want them to see that they can come to us, even if it is just handing us a note. We want them to know we are an outlet; that they can trust us."

No Bus for Bullies has five steps that all drivers will follow when they hear of or recognize bullying on their bus:

Stop: Depending on the severity, when an issue has been brought to their attention, drivers are to pull over at a safe and secure area, or at the next safe bus stop. They will not ignore an issue, Hays said.

Listen: Drivers will give the student their full attention, and repeat back the issue to the student.

Respond: Drivers will tell the student that they will handle the issue, then separate the students and investigate the situation.

Report: Drivers must document the incident in detail, on a standard reporting form which then will be reviewed by Hays.

Follow Through: All incident reports will be filed with the school and with First Student. Data will be tracked to see if there is a trend, with any groups or individuals. Drivers will follow up with the reporting student within the week to make sure the situation has been resolved. If the bullying has not stopped, Hays will take the issue to the principal of the involved students' school, for disciplinary procedures.

"We do have to deal with bullying," Olathe Elementary Principal Joe Brummitt said. "Just last week, we had a situation where older kids were harassing our younger kids. I am really happy that First Student got on board with this."

Brummitt said the new program fits in nicely with what many Montrose district schools are doing in the classroom, which is a positive behavior program that teaches students how they should manage themselves at school, showing them what that looks, sounds and feels like.

"First Student is not a branch of [the district], but they are still an integral part of us," Brummitt said. "And this sends a message on how we treat each other…and it reinforces what is going on in the schools, and for a lot of us, what is expected and what should go on at home."

First Student is encouraging both district officials and students to support the program, which, Hays said, offers a way for students to "stand up for themselves" – by reporting the matter, because they know they have the backing of their driver, the bus service and their school district.

Students who help or commit to the program receive a certificate that goes into their school file, and a bracelet that says, "No Bus for Bullies."

"We want our students to know we are proud of their efforts," Hays said.

Hays and her employees are confident that the program will  reduce the number of incidents on school buses, as students become aware that there are serious consequences to bullying.

"I think we are going to see a difference," Delgado said. "Maybe not tomorrow, but certainly by the end of the year."





Kati O'Hare at kohare@watchnewspapers.com or Tweet @katiohare

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