JCPS bus driver discusses assaults, hopes her message will end t - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS bus driver discusses assaults, hopes her message will end the violence

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Fights, assaults and becoming victims themselves are all issues bus drivers in Jefferson County say they deal with on a daily basis.

Jefferson County Public Schools reports more than a thousand fights on its buses in the past three years. In the 2011-2012 school year there were 562 reported fights, 310 the following year, and 207 for the 2013-2014 school year.

Bus drivers say it’s more than just about the fights, as even the drivers are becoming victims.

"We're just trying to get them to and from school safe," said Amy, who didn't want to give her last name.

She’s been a bus driver for JCPS since 2005 and the scar on her arm is a lifelong reminder of how rough the job can get.

"It's very scary now," she said of bus drivers becoming targets.

"People have had lasers being shined in the mirror which obviously is shined on our face, you know, my biggest thing is flying objects, throwing pencils, crayons," she said.

In December of 2012, Amy ended up in the hospital.

"I was hurt doing what I was supposed to do," Amy explained. 

While breaking up a fight, she says she was assaulted by elementary school students.

"My thumb and wrist were pushed back and felt jammed and the student punched the side of the bus and the bus door before being seated," she said.

Doctors performed two surgeries including shortening a bone in her forearm.

"No one should have to put their self in that position taking kids home from school," said John Stovall, President of the Teamsters Local 783.

The union recently put up a billboard along the Waterson Expressway near Poplar Level Road that reads “Help Stop School Bus Violence.” The sign also includes the union’s phone number.

"We've had drivers get hurt physically and that’s uncalled for and they shouldn't have to worry about that or have to deal with something like that," said Stovall who represents about a thousand JCPS bus drivers.

"They're paid a job to transport students back and forth safely and professionally,” said Stovall. “The vast majority of all them do that, but they shouldn't have to worry about their physical safety while they're operating that bus."

There are more than 950 buses within the JCPS fleet along with more than 1,000 drivers and the district says it does whatever it can to make sure everyone on board is safe. It’s already added cameras to buses and says it’s investing $250,000 for bus monitors for the 2014-2015 school year.

"It's not just about putting a bus monitor on. It's not just about making sure you have security on. This is a symptom of a larger problem. If a student's acting out on a bus there's a bigger problem going on and we have to find out what's going on," said JCPS spokesman Ben Jacket.

Amy says the kids need to be held accountable.

"There has to be some kind of punishment for what these students do,” she said.

The billboard will stay up until the first of the year and the union says it may even more it around town after that.

Amy was off the job for 17 months and just went back to work in May. She says the transportation office never notified the students’ parents after she was injured, but referrals were sent home with them.

She says every year bus drivers are allowed to choose their own route, and based on her seniority she’s picked a different one this year.

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