Local News

Wake Schools Look At Ways To Tighten Bus Security After Alleged Assaults

Posted September 23, 2004

— In light of a reported sex crime on a school bus, Wake County is looking at ways to improve bus security.

Raleigh police said the incident happened on a bus that left Dillard Drive Elementary Monday afternoon. Two boys, ages 10 and 11, are in juvenile custody. Police say the victims are just 5 and 7 years old.

"Safety of our children is the No. 1 issue all day long when parents entrust their children to us," said Bill Fletcher, a Wake County school board member and candidate for state Superintendent.

Fletcher said the report of a sex offense on a bus raises big red flags.

"How could this have happened? How is it that two students could have perpetrated this kind of event without someone else on the bus raising a concern -- be it another student, a driver," Fletcher said.

The school system said the bus driver, Gwendolyn Holden, did nothing wrong.

"We feel the buses are safe," said Wake County School Security Director John Rothecker, who investigated the incident.

Rothecker said the boys confessed to him. Rothecker said the school system has now sent bus drivers a memo re-iterating the importance of supervising children.

"Although they do have to remember they are driving the bus and their first priority is to get kids from school to home safely. They do have to make sure they don't take their attention away from the roadway," he said.

Rothecker said school officials are looking at ways to make buses safer, including more driver training and cameras.

School officials believe Monday's incident was an isolated incident, but they notified parents about what happened and how they plan to take steps to make sure it will not happen again.

The school system said Holden did not hear or see anything unusual and the victims did not report the crime to her. As for possible remedies like cameras or having extra adult monitors ride buses, Rothecker said it all comes down to money.



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