TPS: Unruly Students Made 'Lost Bus' Ride Worse

Friday, September 11th 2015, 6:42 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa Public Schools has released video of a bus trip that ended with parents corralling the bus to make the driver stop. That was after a short bus route - turned into a long bus ride.

The video the district released is only a portion of what they have. The district blames unruly children for part of the problem, but withheld the on-board video to protect the privacy of students.

The district also says parents made the situation dangerous - and you can see some of what parents did in the video.

The view through the windshield of a TPS bus is unremarkable until a car pulls in front and forces it to stop. It was an Edison parent - on the phone with TPS - who stopped a lost bus driver on a route that should have only taken a few minutes.

The route was No. 4001 that normally makes an uneventful stop 10 minutes after leaving the school. Edison students ride it to neighborhoods in South Tulsa. But one day last week, the bus took several unfamiliar turns that scared students and led parents to start driving to find it and get their children. 

9/2/2015 Related Story: Parents Chase Down Tulsa School Bus When Driver Doesn't Stop

The bus left Edison and was supposed to stop first at New Haven Methodist Church, then Grissom Elementary. Instead, GPS data shows the driver took a roundabout route - on Interstate 44, south on Sheridan, to 71st and over near Walmart on South Memorial.

The wandering trip stopped when parents blocked the bus near 65th Street.

Read The TPS Report

The driver made a U-turn near Walmart, that led to the only problems with TPS policy. The district says the driver was disciplined for this, but won't say how.

The drivers training records say he's experienced and got good marks during training, but the incident report calls him a "substitute driver dispatched at the last moment" (who was) "unfamiliar with the route and that area of town"
The report says during the trip "students began calling parents and acting frantic."

The report partially blames students - claiming they "were unruly, out of control and needed to settle down." Children from the bus and their parents say the problems only started when the driver got on the interstate.

After several parents got calls, at least four of them corralled the bus and got their children off. A few students stayed on and finally made it to that first stop around 5 p.m.

The driver was put on a different route but is still with the district. TPS is still short on drivers, still hiring and willing to train someone with no experience.