School districts lack bus fight policies


The Call 6 Investigators have uncovered many school districts lack policies regarding what school bus drivers should do when a fight breaks out among students.

The Franklin Township Community School Corporation has a 45 page bus driver policy handbook, which does not make mention of how to handle fights.

Last month, 14-year-old Caleb Jones was beaten and bloodied on a Franklin Township school bus by a fellow student, and some criticized the school bus driver for not taking more action.

In the cell phone video posted on Facebook, the bus driver appears 35 seconds into the video and tells the students fighting, "Come on guys, you can’t do that," and then walks away.

Doctors later placed three staples into Jones' head.

"If you have a kid that's bleeding at all, you should call 911, period," said Lora Hoagland, mother of Caleb Jones. "That kind of took me by surprise, that there was no policy at all. It’s a little bothersome."

The Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana State School Bus Drivers Association both recommend school districts provide guidance to bus drivers on the issue.

"A school corporation should have some type of written guidance for drivers in dealing with discipline and other related issues," Ron Chew, president of the Indiana State School Bus Drivers Association, said in an email to Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney.         

"Our transportation specialist’s recommendation to new drivers and districts is that drivers should call for assistance immediately and should not intervene physically in any type of fight,” said Alex Damron, spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Education. "The number one goal is to not compromise the safety of all students riding the bus."

Indianapolis Public Schools, MSD of Washington Township, MSD of Perry Township and Southern Hancock all have policies regarding how bus drivers should handle fights.

For example, in Washington Township, bus drivers are required to use verbal intervention to inform those to stop fighting, be observant regarding names and descriptions, radio details to the Director of Transportation, who calls law enforcement, and report the incident to the proper school administrator.

In Washington Township, bus drivers are asked to physically intervene only in an emergency situation.

Noblesville, Monroe County, Franklin Community, MSD Lawrence Township, MSD Wayne Township, MSD Decatur Township and Franklin Township do not have policies in place.

"Procedures regarding bus drivers and fighting are under review," wrote Dr. Flora Reichanadter, Franklin Township superintendent, in an email to RTV6. 

Lora Hoagland is now home-schooling her children because she doesn’t feel they’re safe at school or on the bus.

"I’m glad they’re now working on a policy, however, I find it unacceptable there was not a policy to begin with," said Hoagland. "I don’t think a bus driver should ever put themselves in danger. However, you need to do something."

Franklin Township school officials would not say whether the bus driver in the video was disciplined over the incident.

The 15-year-old boy accused of beating up Caleb Jones was suspended.

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