The Buffalo Common Council's Education Committee continues searching for answers on school bus safety. WBFO's Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley says district officials will return next month with a full presentation.
“What I am discouraged with are the current statistics of attendance. What I’m discouraged with is the amount of behaviors that are violent,” said Masten District Council member Ulysees Wingo, Chair of the Council’s Education committee.
Wingo is also a substitute school teacher. He highly recommends the district work hard to 'increase parental engagement' to crack down on high absenteeism and other behavior troubles.
“They’re sending their kids to school and they think that they’re glorified daycare's. I have a philosophy in my classroom that as many times as you interrupt my classroom is as many times is as many times as I’m going to interrupt your parents day. I don’t care if your parents are at work. I don’t care if they’re at school. As many times as you interrupt my classroom that’s how many times I’m going to call and parents need to be held a little more accountable,” explained Wingo.
Late last week Wingo and the committee members questioned city school officials about school bus aides. This followed reports that a six-year-old Catholic school student was sexually assaulted by an older student on a city school bus in December. There was also an earlier complaint in November regarding another incident on a city school bus. Both times there were no bus aides.
But district officials provided little information. However, Wingo is hopeful more will be provided when the district returns with a presentation next month.
"We are all operating in good faith, but at the end of the day, I am saying I'm encourage because the conversations are being had and people are making commitments to do something about the conditions they are currently in," stated Wingo.
The district's chief operations officer Kevin Eberle appeared at last week's meeting. He told lawmakers the district has a 40-percent turnover in bus aides each year and trouble filling those positions.
"We have to do something rather than nothing. I think we are moving in the right direction," said Wingo.