Local News

Reports of Hot Bus Irk Parents

Posted September 11, 1999

— Some Wake County parents will demand answers about a bus driver when their kids return to school Monday. Students say the bus driver punished them for what she called "talking junk," by making them ride home with the windows shut on a hot afternoon.

"Steaming hot" is how 7-year-old Zihkyah Gertman describes her bus ride home from Dillard Drive Elementary School on Friday.

"When we first got on the bus she said, 'Don't put no windows down until you be quiet," the child said.

It's a 45-minute trip from the school in Cary to Zihkyah's neighborhood in east Raleigh. Students say their bus driver made them ride with the windows up to punish them in 82-degree weather.

"She made us pull the windows up and turn the heat on," Cameron Hood recalled.

After 45 minutes, a thermometer inside a car with the windows rolled up on a day like Friday reached 110 degrees -- just an indication of how hot it was inside a school bus with more than 60 kids on board.

"Nobody should treat children like that. You get in trouble for putting your dog in a car and putting the windows up," said Charisse Gertman.

Parents like Gertman were furious when their kids told them what happened. Students say it was so hot inside the bus that one boy got sick.

"The boy, he opened up the window and he was like, "Help! Help!' And she was like, 'Put up the window. Put up the window,'" Zihkyah said.

"Some boy fainted in the back, and he was real cramped in the back seat," Cameron said.

When school opens Monday morning, parents say they'll be looking for an explanation -- and a promise that their kids will get a new bus driver.

"I don't think she should be able to drive any bus. That's just crazy,"

The principal at Dillard Elementary declined to comment. A Wake county transportation official says the bus incident is being investigated. The bus driver's name was not released.

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