Your child’s first few days of school can be bittersweet. It can be hard to let go -especially for the first time- and to feel that you’re entrusting your baby’s well-being into someone else’s hands.
It can feel especially hard when your child rides the bus to school. It initially feels strange to let your small child board a vehicle driven by a strange adult, and to watch it drive away.
But you get used to it. The bus ride to and from school merely becomes a standard part of the routine. After all, you trust that the adults that are responsible for your children are keeping them safe, right?
Unless you find out that your child is being attacked on the bus…
…and that the bus driver has done absolutely nothing about it.
A mom approached her daughter’s school district to address her daughter’s physically assault on the school bus, & the district required her to pay $600 to view video footage of the incident.
Mom Audrey Billings was told by her five-year-old daughter that she had been “hurt” by other students on the school bus. No parent ever wants to hear that kind of distressing news, so Audrey immediately contacted the Dallas Independent School District about the incident.
The principal confirmed that some inappropriate physical behavior had occurred, but only gave Audrey a vague “play-by-play” description of it.
But Audrey Billings wasn’t satisfied by a loose verbal account of the event, nor should she have been.
The district’s buses are equipped with cameras, which is how the principal knew what had transpired in the first place.
Audrey made a reasonable request: she asked to view the actual footage of the incident. Considering that the principal admitted that a physical assault had occurred, it would be logical for the parent of the injured child to see it, right?
The district informed Billings that in order to view the bus footage over several days, each day’s footage would have to be redacted.
According to the district, the cost of a single day’s worth of video footage from the bus cost $600- a price that Billings herself would have to pay if she wanted to view the assault.
With no alternative, Billings ponied up the $600, which is a travesty to begin with. But what she viewed on the footage is even more tragic- not just to her, but to any parent viewing it.
The 14-minute clip from the ride home from school on November 11 shows Audrey’s daughter (remember: FIVE YEARS OLD) being repeatedly shoved, poked, pushed into a headlock, and jabbed at with a pencil by fellow students.
Notice Audrey’s daughter (wearing white) held in a headlock by an older student, with a few students egging on the abuse.
Audrey’s daughter tried to fight off her bullies, but the attack continued. And despite her crying and pleas to the bus driver for help… the attack continued.
Also note that the vehicle is not a full-sized bus, with many students on it. There are six double-seats in total, and Audrey’s daughter was sitting two seats away from the driver.
Meaning: It was impossible for the driver to NOT know what was happening.
As a parent, the idea of your five-year-old child (or any child, for that matter) being beaten up on a school bus is heartbreaking.
Now watch the actual video. After all, Audrey Billings had to pay good money to see it…
It’s absolutely sickening. The poor little girl is trying to fend off multiple children, and is crying. She begs for help from the driver more than once.
We teach our children to ask adults for help when they need it. Audrey’s daughter desperately needed help in this appalling situation, but no one came to her rescue.
As Audrey told CNN during an interview about the incident:
I was devastated, I cried.
Devastation would likely be my reaction if it were my child, followed by a massive amount of rage.
As far as the outcome of the incident, a spokeswoman for the Dallas ISD stated that the students involved were disciplined according to the Student Code of Conduct.
Audrey Billings wanted more results than a punishment for the bullies. She told CNN that she wants the district to create a more effective bullying policy, with clear expectations of how episodes of bullying should be handled.
Spokeswoman Robyn Harris stated:
Dallas ISD has taken steps to improve our transportation services to further ensure the safety of students.
The district has provided additional training and monitoring.
The bus driver was immediately removed from the route as well.
Audrey’s daughter no longer rides the bus. And while she’s likely recovered from any physical pain she experienced from the assault, the emotional aspects will probably linger.
It’s incomprehensible that a beating like this could happen to such a little girl when an adult was literally steps away & could have (SHOULD HAVE) intervened.
And it’s even more incomprehensible that the district would request a fee from the parent of the child so that she could view the horrific incident with his or her own eyes.
The district should not only refund Billings her $600, but should give serious thought to the personnel they’re paying to teach, nurture, & protect their students.