CROWLEY (CBSDFW.COM) – A Crowley Independent School District bus driver was fired Tuesday for ordering 30 children to walk home after the bus broke down last week.
District officials say the children boarded School Bus #64 and were en route to David Walker Intermediate School when a rock wedged between the bus’s back tires.
It happened mere blocks from where the children live. Instead of waiting for help, the driver told the students to get off the bus and walk home.
Parents like Chonda Johnson thought her son had been taken to school, as per routine. But then 11-year-old Achiles knocked on the door.
“The bus driver let all the children go,” Johnson said.
Achiles said the driver, who has not been identified, told him and his classmates to “get off the bus and go home and go call your mom.” Parents told CBS 11 that the children were roaming around the neighborhood.
No one was injured, and all the kids made it home, said district spokesman Anthony Kirchner.
“When I came around the corner kids were everywhere, walking the streets and doing what they wanted to do,” Johnson said.
Crowley ISD contracts its bus operations to Durham School Services, a company based in Illinois that says it’s the second largest in the country.
After reviewing the incident, Durham fired the bus driver for violating company policy.
In the event of a mechanical breakdown, “if there is no threat to the safety of the students, keep them on the bus,” Durham mandates.
The policy also says drivers are to “never leave students alone.”
“That was very dangerous,” said Johnson. “I was very upset. My child is walking. What if I had not been at home? I was very upset.”
Here’s the full Durham School Services Policy and Procedures rule:
“Once students have boarded buses, they may not be released to anyone other than school district personnel or at their regular stop unless prior permission is given.”
Additionally, in the event of a mechanical breakdown, “The driver should remain with the bus and the students. If there is no threat to the safety of the students, keep them on the bus. If unsafe conditions warrant evacuation, the driver should provide precise instructions as to where the students should relocate and how they should do it.”
Meanwhile, Crowley ISD spokesperson Anthony Kirchner released this statement:
“Student safety is the top priority for Crowley ISD and Durham School Services. We have approximately 130 professionally-trained bus drivers who are committed to getting students safely to and from school every day. Regretfully, one bus driver did not follow proper safety procedures and has been terminated by Durham School Services following an internal investigation. Crowley ISD and Durham School Services demand all employees follow proper policies and procedures and we will not tolerate any actions that put our students at risk.”