Local News

Hot, Bumpy Ride Costs School Bus Driver Her Job

Posted September 12, 1999

— One Wake County bus driver no longer works for the school system. Some Dillard Drive Elementary School students told their parents Friday that the bus driver had punished them by making them ride home with the bus windows shut on a hot afternoon.

Today, a number of parents came to the school offices to demand an explanation for what occurred.

According to parent Nicole Jenkins, the driver admitted to excessive braking and to ordering the windows be kept closed.

So now driver Patty Leach will no longer take the wheel of a Wake County school bus.

The outraged parents say they cannot forgive her for what she did. They say they will also seek to have charges filed against her.

The parents are also asking that their children be provided counseling because, they say, the youngsters have not gotten over the experience.

School officials say counseling is available at the school for children who might need it. They also say notices will be sent to bus drivers, reminding them of proper disciplinary procedures.

Wyatt Currin, school transportation director, says a conference is held over the summer to train drivers, and that braking and closing windows are not the way to resolve discipline matters.

The children had said Leach was disciplining them for "talking junk."

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

Parents like Gertman were furious when their kids told them what happened. Students alleged that was so hot inside the bus 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 Gertman said.

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

The drive from Dillard Drive Elementary School to the children's east Raleigh neighborhood takes about 45 minutes. Friday afternoon temperatures were about 82 degrees.


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