COMMENTARY | Interview screening standards at the Columbus City School District in Ohio must be among the worst in the nation. Alleged abuse and sexual misconduct claims against district school bus drivers have occurred three times this month. The public employees accused of harming the children they were tasked with protecting are all facing criminal charges. Union mandates prevent the district from immediately terminating the school employees.
On Wednesday, a bus driver was accused of choking a special-needs third-grader.
Earlier this week, a bus driver was arrested for allegedly soliciting a male student for oral sex.
Less than two weeks ago, another district school bus driver admitted to holding down a male and encouraging a fight while transporting children home from school.
The school bus surveillance system captured what district officials believe to be a physical attack on a 9-year-old girl, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Thankfully the school district did not demonstrate the same inaction with Laura Roberson (the accused in this case) as was taken with other staff which had incidents of alleged inappropriate behavior in their school files.
Either the district suddenly felt brave enough to battle the powerful public employees union representing the driver, or felt the pressure of public opinion after the alleged misdeeds of three bus drivers made headlines statewide. A police report fired regarding the incident describes the incident as an endangering children offense.
The personnel file of another school bus driver, Brenda Abdul-Mateen, included incidents of running stop signs while transporting children, threatening child with violence to her person and family and not reporting a child's report that she was raped on the back of the bus, the Dispatch reports. All of the incidents occurred before the allegations that Abdul-Mateen held down one elementary school student while instructing another student to hit the child earlier this month. The district failed to protect the children who rode Abdul-Mateen's bus repeatedly. A stern warming, anger management training or a suspension were not adequate responses to such serious and life-threatening infractions.
Hervie Jackson pleaded guilty this week to soliciting a male student for oral sex, according to the Dispatch. Did Jackson just wake up one morning and decide to become a pedophile or were there warning signs and past criminal acts which should have been known to school administrators?
The taxpayers do not expect school officials to be fortune tellers, but have the right to demand proper supervision and appropriate responses to misconduct.