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You Want the Bus Driver to Put His Hands Where?

Years ago I let my daughter enroll in the early childhood program in our school district. Though she didn’t technically qualify, her occupational and physical therapists advised me that it was the best scenario and I thought I was being responsible. She was three, and I now consider it one of the worst mistakes I’ve made as a parent. It divided us up, wreaked havoc on our daily rhythm, and resulted in regression in my daughter. I wish I could take those two years back, but I can’t.

One of the worst things about the experience was also the daily bus ride. At first the idea of the bus coming to our door to get her for this three hours a day program was cool, especially since we only had one car and I wouldn’t be able to take her or pick her up. But as much as I liked her regular driver, this was not nearly as cool as I thought it would be. One day, when she came home, her car seat straps were undone. Another, a substitute took her to the wrong street and tried to drop her off there! I was enraged both times, but nobody else seemed to be concerned.

And as awesome as her regular driver was, I know so many bus drivers who are completely unfit for their jobs personally—ones that verbally abuse kids, talk or text while driving (one wrecked her bus), and even one who carried a gun in her purse! These are not people I want touching my kid, let along searching her. In fact, no one should be able to do so without my permission AND my supervision, as well as without probable cause.

But that’s not what a school district in western Indiana wants to hear. No, Vigo County Schools are trying to give bus drivers the power to search the kids on their buses for weapons or drugs. The drivers would be able to search both the students’ belongings as well as the student him or herself.

I won’t even talk about the harms and humiliation it would cause the students; for one, they’re used to such things. They have to carry toilet seats and music stands and big pieces of wood (in my own case) to be able to use the bathroom—when and if a teacher allows it, no matter if it’s an emergency or not—for Pete’s sake; they’re used to not being trusted or respected. For another, the school district wouldn’t care about such things, either; they’re used to implementing “safety” measures that deny kids basic human dignity and forcing teachers to comply with them. It’s really no wonder so many get so jaded quickly, with an obscenely high turnover rate.

On an obvious note, and one that would actually appeal to school boards, doesn’t the school district smell a lawsuit with this stupid decision? Wouldn’t the idea of an irate parent screaming about sexual misconduct alone—whether or not it occurs (and it always has the potential of occurring)—turn these decision makers off the idea in a heartbeat? And how about the money it’s going to take to train the drivers? After all, they aren’t cops, and you can’t expect them to know how to search kids without proper training.

This idea is just wrong any way you look at it. Kudos, Vigo County, for treating your kids like criminals. I’m sure you must be very proud.