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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Tempers Flare at School Bus Meeting

Passion ignited Thursday evening at Joseph Gomez Elementary School in Tutu as administrators spoke about student misconduct on school buses.

About 50 parents attended a mandatory meeting where administrators addressed students’ school bus conduct by showing videos of students traveling to and from school, and another with the bus driver demonstrating correct standards.

Several of the approximately 73 students who ride the bus from Bovoni and Thomasville to Joseph Gomez have consistently ignored federally mandated rules, officials said, noting they felt parents needed to get involved.

Newly installed cameras on the school buses were a controversial topic. Parents were concerned about their children being recorded, but officials promised that the videos were for administrators and parents only.

The videos were straightforward clips of children on the buses. Children stood and walked while the bus was moving, stuck their legs in the aisle obstructing the driver’s view, and were generally disruptive.

Parents murmured stunned comments as they pointed out their own children and questioned what happens next. There was no information on how parents should go about teaching their children how to follow rules and be courteous towards one another and the bus driver.

“This is not a result of any one action by students,” said St. Thomas-St. John Superintendent Jeanette Smith-Barry. “We want to address these issues before they become a real problem. We want parents to be aware before anything happens.”

School officials stressed that some children follow rules, but they need to focus on to those who don’t as it compromises the safety of all. Safety was the key topic for both Smith-Barry and Joseph Gomez Principal Freida Farrow, as they led the discussion.

“We want parents to understand that, although your child may not be misbehaving, all are in jeopardy until we resolve this,” Farrow said.

Speakers lectured on ongoing issues and the importance of safety, handed out pamphlets and said they would discuss specific incidences privately.

While the videos did not show any extreme behavior, Smith-Barry did address instances of playful fighting and children throwing things at each other as well at cars. These actions not only put the students at risk, but other drivers.

During the presentation, a heated argument broke out between two parents who were eventually escorted out by school security officers. Spectators and administrators sat dumbfounded as one voiced the irony of seeking to improve children’s behavior as they fought amongst themselves.

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