School bus driver makes unscheduled stops

Latest: 10:27 pm, 11/13/17, Monday 

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) -- Last week, a bus driver was caught on video making extra stops for snacks and pizza, but the district still hasn't said whether that person will still be driving kids.

Parents are still furious after a driver ditched the bus route to visit convenience stores, but the district won't say what's being done about it.

Superintendent Susan Zola says since they serve upwards of 10,000 students, there will always be opportunities for improvement. But what's still not clear is what's going to improve.

Last Thursday we showed you this video that was shot by an 8 year old. The child's mother says the bus full of kids stopped for pizza and snacks when it should've been taking them home after school.

Angry parents have since reached out to the district. A few say they got a call from a facilities director, who told them they couldn't say what (if anything) would be done about the driver. In short, they say they can't discuss personnel issues.

"If you're the parent of a child that was on that bus, is that response good enough?" asked reporter Aaron Eades.

"We have called back any parent that directly reached out on our behalf," says Zola, "And worked to communicate and obviously assure them that as we look into this particular situation, that our priority, again, is that our students are transported to and from school in a timely and safe manner."

"I received a phone call back and was told that due to HIPPA law, that they couldn't discuss personnel issues with me," says parent Amanda Hall, "I was told that basically, if she was on the bus, then she got her job back, and if she didn't come back after a while, then we knew she wasn't coming back."

Zola also said, "We have a safety officer as well as administrative staff that daily, weekly, look at various incidents."

As we've reported before, one of the parents said she got a voicemail from a machine saying they would have a substitute driver, but it didn't say for how long. The superintendent couldn't speak about the driver, either.

Parents whose kids reported the driver's actions say they've been worried the children might face retaliation when and if the driver returns to their normal route. They say the district told them they would never allow that to happen.

Update: 4:45 pm, 11/10/17, Friday 

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) -- Parents are still furious a bus driver hasn't been bringing their kids straight home from school.

A school bus driver has been stopping at convenience stores and pizza places during the route. Parents say the response from the school district isn't cutting it. They want answers.

They say it's their right, as parents, to know where their kids have been and district leaders saying it's a "personnel issue" isn't enough.

An 8-year old took video and you can hear her say, "We're at a gas station right now and we're not supposed to be here."

Multiple parents say the whole situation is sad. One parent said she didn't even know about it until she saw the story on TV.

At least three mothers plan to go to talk to the superintendent Monday to demand answers.

School district officials say they're speaking directly to parents who have concerns but so far, not all have been contacted. 

Original: 4:05 pm, 11/9/17, Thursday

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) -- Parents are outraged a school bus driver wasn't bringing kids straight home after school.

The driver was making stops at convenience stores and pizza places and there's video to prove it. Parents say they feel neglected by the district.

Kids at Westview Elementary are usually told if they're going to get home late, but parents say they didn't know this was happening until their kids told them.

"We're literally, not even half-a-block from the bus stop, so there's no reason for her to be late."

Amanda Hall says she knows exactly where her daughter is supposed to be at all times. She gets on her school bus and is supposed to come straight home, but one bus driver has been making detours.

"I feel it's a big safety issue. There's no reason for my child to be taken anywhere but to her bus stop to come home."

An 8-year old took video. We're not using her voice but she says, "We're at the gas station right now, the bus driver is getting snacks and we're not supposed to be here."

"My daughter said they make comments that their throats are dry and they need something to snack on, so they stop and get themselves snacks and drinks and stuff like that."

And, it wasn't just one time. The other day, the driver stopped at a pizza place and bought food for kids who had money.

"Not every kid on the bus had a dollar, so most of the kids had to stop and watch them eat a slice of pizza."

That's just a piece of the pie. Parents say their kids aren't getting home until much later.

"She usually gets home around 2:55, 3:00. Yesterday, she didn't get home until 3:30."

The school district released this statement: "Student safety is always our priority and we take parent concerns very seriously. This is a personnel matter and we are unable to comment further."

"I feel like they're neglecting the situation. They're not taking it serious. This is an issue."

The parent said she got a voicemail from a machine saying there would be a substitute driver, but they weren't told for how long or what happened to the driver.


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