We've all heard stories about children being bullied at school. We've all run it through our heads what we would do if it was our child. We'd talk with the teacher or bus driver, we'd talk with the principal, we'd get something done to make sure that our child was protected and away from the bully. But what if the bully is the very person in charge of your child's welfare? What if it was the teacher or the bus driver?
A few weeks ago, on February 1st, The Big One came from school with a bomb shell. She told us that she had seen the guidance counselor at the school that day because of a report that was made. That report was from a couple of older students that ride her bus and what they reported was that the day earlier the bus driver had told my daughter that she should have never been born and that I should tie her to a dog chain.
WHAT!? Ummm, okay, why wasn't I informed? I didn't hear about this until after the school was closed for the day and the next day was a snow day and so I couldn't talk to anybody about it then either. The more I sat and thought about it, the more furious I became. Who says this to a child? Who says this to ANYONE? I think in my entire life, I have only thought this of one person. It was a grown man who kept me prisoner for several years and abused me daily. And even then, I quickly thought better of it and never said it aloud. But this wasn't a grown person who she dealt with all day long every day, it was someone she saw four days a week for a half hour. A child. MY child. Words can't really express what I felt. It was sickening.
On February 2nd, I wrote to the address on the bus company website. I expressed my concerns and even shared personal insight as to why I was so offended by the comment, but I didn't hear back from anyone. Apparently the address is no longer valid.
So the day after that, I wrote the guidance counselor to make sure that there was in fact an incident that happened. I told her that until I knew the situation and could make a decision about whether I felt safe sending my daughter on the bus, that I would take her myself. I also let her know that I couldn't afford to do it for long and that I would transport her as long as I could and then pull her out of school if necessary. I couldn't pick The Big One up that day, but my mother-in-law did and she informed me that the principal had told her that he would look into the matter and find out what happened.
I did receive an email back from the guidance counselor. She informed me that yes, there was an incident that she counseled my daughter about and that the principal had asked the bus service owner to review the video tape from that day and to get back to him on what was said.
On the next day, February 4th, I received a email from the bus service owner saying that he had reviewed the tape and that there was no comment said about tying The Big One to a dog chain, but that she did say something that he found offensive and that she would be dealt with and he hoped to see her Monday morning. Personally, I think the dog chain comment was made a different day because children are not going to report someone that they have to be with very day unless they know they heard it. I think it was said an earlier day and the children didn't report it until a second incident occurred. Either way, I am very very grateful to the students for standing up for my daughter and getting involved. And the principal said that he wanted the bus driver to switch routes, which I was also grateful for.
Not the case. Not even close. The next morning, guess who was driving the morning route. Go ahead, guess. Yeah, that's right. He had taught the abusive bus driver to drive my daughter's morning route as well. And I was distracted at the time she got on and didn't notice until she was rolling away. But when I did notice, I was very much unimpressed. Livid, actually. Not only was this woman not taken off my daughter's bus route, but she is driving MORE!? What the heck!?
And I did receive an email from the principal saying that if it should happen again, she would be fired. I got the impression that he felt like his hands were tied in the matter. That's cool, but I'm not gonna sit and wait for a second abuse on my child, I want her on a different bus. I did also receive an "apology" letter from the offending driver that day she drove both routes. But honestly, instead of easing my mind, it just upset me even more. Soon, I shall scan the letter and place it here, for now, I will just relay what she wrote:
To *****'s Parents,
I am writing to say "I'm sorry" for having said to ***** maybe she shouldn't have been born. I really and truly don't remember saying it but I only can say I must have been having a bad day.
Again, I'm sorry.
I don't even know what to say besides "How scary is THAT!?" She says something so hurtful and abusive to a child and doesn't even remember saying it? Does that mean that she says things that hurtful so often that she thought nothing of it? Or was she on something? Or was she being dishonest and just shirking responsibility like it is no big deal? And then she blames it on a bad day. I mean, every other day in my house is a bad day. How often does she have a bad day? Once a week? Three times a month? Either way, would you really want this person driving your child? I didn't.
It was fine for the first week, but then I realized that this new arrangement is quickly taxing both my money and my energy. And even though I am determined to bring her myself, I have no idea how it is going to happen. I can barely afford the ten trips per week I am already making for school and speech. Now I have 4 more to make.
After hearing about the "apology" letter, my mother became angrier than ever about the whole situation and she has written several times and has gotten no real answer back accept that the situation does not concern her, basically. So now we are wondering what the next step should be. I feel like I haven't been taken seriously. At this point, we are thinking a petition... or the media... I don't know really. But I feel like this woman should not just be slapped on the wrist over a comment like that. And I feel like I have been slapped in the face not just once because of her driving more now, but twice with that "apology".
I don't know, what do you think? What would you do?