Montrose pilots anti-bullying plan on buses
Partnering with the Montrose School District, First Student-Montrose is piloting a locally crafted plan to end bullying on the ride to and from school. And if it's successful, it could go national.
"We saw the video like everyone else did about monitor on the bus being bullied and wanted to expand it to our children," First Student Location Manager Carmen Hays explained. "Our policy is we're just not going to tolerate it on our buses."
Drawing inspiration from the story of Karen Klein, the bus monitor bullied in Greece, NY, bus drivers at First Student-Montrose are hoping their program will help make the school bus as safe as possible. Called "No Bus for Bullies," administrators are buying in.
"We don't want anybody afraid to be on a bus," Hays said. "It's no tolerance and we're going to hold the children accountable."
Montrose Superintendent Mark MacHale says he and district staff are 100% behind the program. "The fact that it's coming up from the people in the field on how best to solve that problem really gives me a lot of confidence that it's going to work and it's going to work well," he said.
Under the plan, bus drivers pull over any time there is an issue on board. They separate the students involved and follow up on the issue.
Drivers will also track and report each incident to district staff. If there is a trend with one particular student, disciplinary action will be taken.
"Parents are asking about the program, saying 'Why are we doing this,'" Hays said. "It's because we just want to make sure our kids are safe and positive going to school."
Students continually involved in bullying incidents could be kicked off the bus for good. That means they will have to find their own transportation to and from school, activities and field trips.
"I don't think bullying needs to be a culture of growing up," MacHale said. "I think dealing with conflict and dealing with the real world is what we're talking about here and parents are responding in a very good way."
First-Student Montrose has also earned the support of its parent company which says if the program is successful on the local level, it will look at implementing it nationwide.
"It would be amazing to have our 'No Bus for Bullies' go national across First Student. That's over 152,000 drivers. So we'll see what happens," Hays said.
While staff has high hopes for the program, they are all focused on hoping it is the solution for Montrose's bullying problem.
"Our focus is here in Montrose and being successful, and if we can help others then that would just be a little icing on the cake," MacHale said.
District and First Student staff members are asking for patience in implementing this plan. Letters went out to parents on Monday and changes could be made to the program as situations arise.
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