Most school bus drivers are skilled, competent and enjoy working with youngsters. There are some, however, who engage in unsafe behavior, such as talking on cellphones while driving. They drive recklessly, skipping stop signs and red lights or speeding. Others might lose their temper with kids on the bus who misbehave. Some are unreliable, arriving late or forgetting to pick up a child. You're entitled to safe, reliable service, so it's important to take immediate action if your child encounters a bad driver.
Call the school and speak to the principal as soon as possible after an incident. Calmly state the reason for your complaint. Provide details about who, what, when and where. Be prepared to give a physical description of the bus driver if you don't know his name.
Refrain from losing your temper or using inappropriate language. Your complaint will be taken more seriously if you relate the facts without insults or name-calling. Although the driver's behavior might have been outrageous and put your child at risk, it's important that you communicate in a professional manner so your concerns will be heard and addressed.
Ask what will be done to correct the problem, if the principal doesn't volunteer the information. Expect to be told that the principal will need to talk with the driver and hear his side of the story before any action can be taken. Ask when you can call back to follow up. Ask for the name of the driver if you don't know it.
Call the bus company directly and inform the company's representative of the driver's infraction. Begin by stating the route, time your child is picked up and dropped off, name of the school and name of the driver. Give the time and date when the incident occurred. Ask what the company will be doing about the issue.
Follow up your phone calls with letters to the principal and bus company. Clearly state all the facts. Propose a solution, if one has not yet been suggested. For example, if the bus driver spoke rudely to your child, ask for an apology.
Call other parents with children on the bus to increase support for your complaint. For example, if your child reports the driver frequently texts while driving, other children will have witnessed this behavior. If the driver denies the behavior, you're more likely to be believed if you're not the only one making a complaint. Suggest the bus company check video footage if there are security cameras on the bus.
Realize that the driver will not necessarily be dismissed immediately for the infraction. As an employee of the bus company, the driver is entitled to due process. Depending upon the seriousness of the offense, the driver might receive a warning or some other disciplinary action, such as docked pay or a suspension.
- CBS Chicago: 2 Investigators: Chicago School Bus Drivers Breaking Laws
- Ontario School Bus: Who's Driving?
- NBC Montana: Audit Finds 64 Montana School Bus Drivers with Criminal History
- CBC News: Swearing Halifax School Bus Driver Fired
- Knox County Schools: School Bus Complaint
- Northwest Territories Municipal and Community Affairs: Job Description -- School Bus Driver
- Ministry of Transport: Guidelines for Managing School Student Behaviour on Buses
- USA Today: School Bus Cameras Give Passing Drivers a Bad Mark