Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bus duty

I have already posted tonight, but then I remembered something that happened today. Names have been changed.

I work at a local high school with special education students for summer school. Some of these students have very low I.Q. and get lots of supervision. When I was asked to work I was offered bus duty. It is an extra half hour; we work 15 minutes before school starts and 15 minutes after school ends. We have four buses that transport our students. So far it has been the same routine each day. The buses show up early and wait for us to appear so the students can be let off the buses. The students get off and we wait the rest of the time until school starts. At the end of the school day the students get on the buses at 2 minutes past the bell and we spend the rest of the time until we have been there 15 minutes. We don't leave until our appointed time. At exactly that moment, we all get up and we leave. It has been the same every day for 3 weeks, until today.

Today one of our students (we will call her Mary) left the classroom, but she definitely was not with the students waiting for the buses. Debbie, an instructional assistant in Mary's class, and her daughter were checking all the bathrooms. We were VERY concerned. Mary wasn't anywhere. She was really gone and the bus driver refused to wait while we searched for her.

It is important to the story that you know the class went on a walking field trip to a local ice creamery. Mary's teacher mentioned that Mary had a coupon for a free ice cream from the trip. Then another woman, who works at the school and knows Mary and her family, came out and shared the thought that perhaps Mary had walked back to the creamery for her free ice cream. It seems that Mary's family is really strict about sugar and candy, etc--as in Mary isn't allowed to have it. It was thought that Mary could have possibly just walked off and was on her way there. Debbie got in her car and drove to the creamery and Mary's teacher followed in her car just in case they didn't see her and would need to drive in other directions. We had already called Safe Schools which is the same as calling the police. Debbie called her daughter to tell her she had in fact found Mary and was headed back to school. Thank God! When Debbie came back, Mary was not in her car. She had refused to get in the car with Debbie and was reluctantly persuaded to get in her teacher's car.

So, in the end everything was fine. Mary was fine. Debbie was upset, but she will recover. I am sure Mary will lose the privilege of walking ahead of the teacher.

What prompts me to write about this is that Mary refused to get in the car with Debbie. Not because Mary doesn't like Debbie, or is afraid of her. No, she refused because she wanted to go get her ice cream and Mary is very stubborn. Low I.Q. does not mean compliant. As we were waiting for the okay to leave, Debbie was saying she was grateful that Mary's teacher was there. She had hoped it wouldn't take both women to get Mary into a car. So what to do in that situation? Here you are on a very busy street forcing a young girl into a car. Do you do that? Does some well meaning driver see you and take your license plate and call the police? Yes, it can be explained, but who wants to have to explain. In the end we thought that the safest course was to call 911, explain the situation and request police assistance to transport the student back to school. We decided this would be the safest course. We will have something to ask our Safe Schools officer on Monday.

In the end all our students got safely home and that is the goal of bus duty.

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