BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Outrage is mounting against the Buffalo School District over violent incidents on school buses and lack of bus aides.
A coalition of community members is demanding an investigation by state and county officials to determine if the district's should be held criminally liable for incidents.
Saying city school “children are in danger” parents & community leaders are calling for state & county investigation into what they call “civil liability/criminal neglect to the Buffalo Board of Education and First Student Inc.” due to ongoing school bus incidents. @WKBW pic.twitter.com/9q83GZz9qp— Eileen Buckley (@eileenwkbw) March 24, 2022
A video, from a recent fight this school year, shows a second-grader from the Herman Badillo School being hit repeatedly by another student on a bus.
This displays the harsh reality of what is happening on school buses with no bus aide on board.
“This thing is really a catastrophe waiting to happen. We need action and need it now,” Bishop Michael Badger, Urban Think Tank.
Community leaders, clergy, and parents say it is the district's responsibility to make sure that their children are safe on those school buses.
The coalition came together Thursday calling on the Erie County District Attorney and State Attorney General to investigate recent fights on city school buses to determine if there is civil and criminal neglect caused by the school district.
“You know what — if there's an investigation into that’s fine — investigate and if you're investigating because you want to make sure that you can figure out solutions to help out, please do so,” responded Jennifer Mecozzi, West District, Buffalo Board of Education.
School Board member Mecozzi says bus aides are important but noted there is a nationwide shortage.
Still, the coalition says they are desperately needed.
“My phone was flooded with parents and teachers from within the system saying this is happening all the time on the buses to and from school and at school,” remarked Robert Quintana, retired Buffalo Police Officer and former Common Council Member.
Quintana says the mother of the second-grader in that video reached out to him for help and it wasn't until he released the video publicly that the district responded.
“The superintendent called me directly to a conference call and I said I’m sorry that you are being misled — that this child has been getting treatment or this family has been getting support and it has not, and that's when the superintendent got involved,” Quintana explained.
First Student, who contracts with the district is investigating the incident, and the driver was removed immediately.
Another video also surfaced of a 4th grader being assaulted by three 7th graders on a bus — again this school year.
“Most of the bullying occurs from the older students, so we have 6 to 8th graders on the buses with the younger students from K-to third grade and it's very unsafe,” noted DaShaun Baldwin, parent advocate, CAO.
The coalition says action must be taken immediately to hire bus aides and decrease the number of kids on a bus.
“If we're saying there is an increase of violence in the community — there's an increase of violence in the schools — what do you think is going to happen on a school bus that don't have no adult supervision,” declared Sam Radford, We The Parents. “We gonna wait until after a child is hurt seriously or killed — then we going to say okay — stop.”
I reach out to the district for a response, but it said it does not have a comment on an issue that potentially may involve litigation down the road.