Friday, December 31, 2010

Letter to the editor: Charles County school system needs better bus policy

Maryland Independent
December 31, 2010

...I bring this entire situation to the public's attention because I am appalled at what the school informed me about the Charles County bus policy.

I was told that only children in prekindergarten or kindergarten are not to be dropped off without someone there to get them off the bus.

Since my son is in second grade they didn't see anything wrong with him getting dropped off at the edge of our driveway, on the highway, with no one there to retrieve him and make sure he made it to the house safely.

Maryland law states: "A person who is charged with the care of a child under the age of 8 years may not allow the child to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent and the dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle is out of the sight of the person charged unless the person charged provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child to protect the child. … A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days, or both."

So if the law states a child younger than 8 cannot be left alone, then why would a policy state that a child can be dropped off alone from the school bus? I don't understand this with so many children abducted each year or injured from pedestrian-related accidents.

The school system needs to revise its policy to make sure our children remain safe and not a statistic.

Kathy Almassy, Bryantown

Read the full letter HERE.


LegalBeaglette said...

There was another incident earlier this school year involving a 7-year-old [Schools’ policy on bus stops is ‘unacceptable,’ Maryland Independent, 7/16/2010] Both the alleged “school policy” and the judgment of responsible adults seem wrong-headed. In this case, it does seems there is a state law being ignored.

Please note: From what I can find, this is NOT a Board of Education “policy.” It does not appear to be a Superintendent’s “rule,” either. The Superintendent’s Rule # 3785: “The prime consideration shall be the safety of the riders and economy of service.“

Does someone need to define “rider?” When a young child is dropped off at a school bus stop – especially alone, for whom it appears there is no one to take responsibility for him or her – that young child is still (in my opinion) a “rider.” He or she may be off the bus, but a child that young, by law, is not to be left to care for himself or herself.

Superintendent’s Rule # 3798 states: “The application of common sense is the best method of determining the role of the parent(s)/guardian/(s) regarding the safety of students traveling to and from school, either as a passenger on a school bus or as a pedestrian.” One should remind the well-paid superintendent, perhaps, that common sense applies to ANY adult responsible for that child – to include the bus driver.

Where is this alleged “school policy?” Is it actually a component of the contract with bus companies who transport students?

Time for the elected Board of Education to appoint a Transportation Safety Committee under Board Policy 3711?

Jennifer Abell said...

Working on gathering some information and will get back to you