Superintendent says few complaints but district takes bullying seriously

Parents say bullying a problem on Rockland-area school buses

By Stephen Betts | May 11, 2017
Photo by: Stephen Betts

Rockland — Rockland-area school Superintendent John McDonald said Wednesday the district does not tolerate bullying, as a chorus of parents on social media reported incidents aboard buses.

A parent commented May 10 on Facebook, which led to a day-long conversation on the social media site.

"The final straw came a couple days ago, when she came home with bite marks," parent Alex Colson said.

His child is in kindergarten. He said the ages of the students on the bus are from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade,

He said he has spoken with the bus supervisor on multiple occasions, but got no satisfaction, so he decided to both call the superintendent and post on Facebook.

McDonald said he had no comment on the Facebook thread that has focused on allegations of students' being bullied on buses because those allegations are unsubstantiated.

McDonald said one parent who is commenting on the thread has contacted him. He said no other parent has contacted him recently about their children being bullied on the buses. He said there were one or two calls early in the school year.

"We take bullying very seriously," McDonald said.

He urged parents to call him, the transportation director, or their child's school principal if they are aware of bullying.

The superintendent said there is only one Regional School Unit 13 bus equipped with a video camera, but he has included money in the 2017-2018 budget to have the recording equipment installed in all the district's vehicles.

"We are adding cameras, because when issues do arise we can more easily and more accurately investigate them. Most school systems have cameras on their buses these days," he said.

Generally, the only adult on a school bus is the driver, McDonald said. He said there are some instances when educational technicians are on the buses to assist students with special needs.

"Parents are not allowed to ride buses as a general practice, except for field trips. Our drivers are school system employees who have had background checks and fingerprinting and are covered by our insurance carrier," the superintendent said.

The superintendent said later in the week that he was looking to assign an educational technician to one of the bus runs where parents have expressed concerns.

One parent who commented on the Facebook thread on the Midcoast Message Board site said his daughter had frequently been bullied on the bus, starting at the beginning of the year.

There were 63 comments by more than 20 parents as of Thursday morning on the thread. Some were parents with children on the RSU 13 buses, while others were simply people commenting. Some reported bullying and others reported buses running late because the drivers had to stop to deal with disciplinary problems.

Comments (1)
Posted by: ryan jones | May 11, 2017 10:13

As a former bus driver I know the laws. If a student is putting another student at risk the driver is allowed to kick that student off the bus. They then have to call the police and the school. This is a case of a bad bus driver. We are taught to monitor the road, other drivers and the students. This is a clear case of neglect on the bus driver and a lack of training from the school system.


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