Tift Co. mothers speak out on bus incident - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tift Co. mothers speak out on bus incident

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By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

TIFTON, GA (WALB) – The Tift County school board will soon discuss the fate of a driver who dropped off two elementary school students more than a mile away from their home.

Now, two more parents say a similar situation happened months ago.

Stephanie Ferrell and Lilly Garren say their kids used ride the bus everyday in Tift County but not anymore. "My children will never ride a Tift county bus again," said Garren.

That's because they say their 8 and 14 year old daughters were dropped off almost five miles away from home on Old Ocilla Road.

Ferrell says one of her children was let off the bus at a school after a verbal altercation. A sibling and a friend on the bus didn't feel comfortable and asked to get off. "My daughter wanted to call me and he told her no get off the bus," said Ferrell.

Ferrell says she just happened to see the girls walking along Old Ocilla Road. "He is the bus driver and the adult in the situation and he should have never let that occur," she said.

The moms were prompted to speak up again after they saw a similar story on the news last week. "I personally feel that if our situation had been handled accordingly, the situation last week would not have occurred," said Ferrell.

The driver of the bus was given a letter of reprimand and was told students should not be allowed to get off the bus except at their normal stop.

An email from the Tift County states the two situations are completely different, and these children were not forced off the bus.

But these mothers don't agree. "They were still minors that were being put out in an unfamiliar area to walk home not knowing the safety of whether or not they will get home," said Garren.

They want the school board to put a policy in place to establish consistency when it comes to disciplining bus drivers.

The school board will not release the name of the driver involved in last week's incident until the board takes action which should be Tuesday night.

A statement from Tift Co. School System:

We at the Tift County school system work diligently to insure that all students are transported to and from school safely each and every day. We hold our staff to a very high standard to insure this happens. Our transportation department and bus drivers are among the most qualified in their respective jobs. We have protocol and procedures in place to help govern our day to day operations. Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes are made. When these times occur, we immediately investigate the incident and all related circumstances. We then make the appropriate decisions concerning possible procedure changes, disciplinary actions or other modification to help improve our performance.

In response to this current complaint, it is a completely different situation with multiple issues and factors involved. I can not release or discuss any details concerning the circumstances surrounding the incident, but the students were not forced to leave the bus. It is a separate incident with its own set of circumstances. It has been investigated and addressed by the school system and school board.

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