By Amy Cherry 12:01pm, April 2, 2013 - Updated 12:12pm, April 2, 2013Two young girls tell their parents they're being bullied on the school bus over a period of months, and Part 2 of "Bullying on the Bus" examines how the Colonial School District is handling these parents' worst nightmare.
WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
"Do you think that this was a neighborhood issue that's coming onto the bus?" I asked.
"I certainly do," says Colonial Operators Director Karen Gilbert.
Gilbert tells WDEL the district has been proud to employ the Knotts Bus Company for years.
"This bus driver is a longstanding bus driver with the Knotts Company, as well as the Knotts Company with the Colonial School District, over 30 years. We've never had any issues with the driver, or parents reporting any issues with that particular driver," says Gilbert.
But Melissa Berry and her good friend, who's asked to not be named to protect her daughter's identity, have had nothing but problems, they say with the driver and the school district, and they resent the problem being called a "neighborhood issue."
"What do you mean a neighborhood issue? Because they're bad kids because of where we live?" asked the one mother, outraged
Colonial Schools Superintendent Dorothy Linn tells WDEL they've had several meetings and telephone conversations trying to resolve this problem.
"It seems to be an ongoing issue with concerns about the neighborhood, the bus stop, and the bus driver," says Linn.
The girls bus stop was changed directly in front of their home, and Gilbert says it was the bus driver's idea to improve the situation even further.
"And then when it still came to be a problem, the driver suggested that he would pull up to the stop, do not send the girls outside to wait, he would beep, and then the girls could come out to the bus," explains Gilbert.
Linn tells WDEL this bus bullying isn't spilling over into school.
"The girls do not have problems at school. There's no issues at school, and it seems to be an issue on the bus," says Linn.
But one mother claims that's not true.
"They're acting like, 'Oh well the kids don't seem that upset about it.' I don't care. If a kid comes in the school and punches my daughter in the face, but my daughter doesn't tell you she's scared or cries, does that mean it's OK?" she asks.
This mother has tried the police peacekeeping route, but she doesn't want to go around pressing charges on children.
"How far should we safely take this? Because if I press charges on a kid that's acting out, and he's acting out because this is how his parents act, then what's going to happen? They're going to come back and shoot up my house," says the mother.
She blames the district and the bus company.
"We've seen countless children die either because they were bullied or because they couldn't take it anymore, and now we've got a school district that isn't doing anything," she claims.
But the Colonial School district has had several meetings, and they changed the girls' bus stop, and now they've gone even further. After our investigation, the two little girls are on a new bus altogether and Mr. Lawrence isn't the driver.
Linn tells WDEL this isn't a step they take often.
"It is unusual, but it doesn't mean that it's not done ever. But we do try to work through problems, but if it looks like that's the best solution for the child and the families, then we will work it through that way. So we do take those steps," says Linn.
Berry and her self-proclaimed sister are thrilled, and say their kids had a good first day on the new bus.
"I'm finally relieved and hopeful that everything will get better. I'm glad that somebody sees that this isn't a joke, that it was a serious matter," says Berry's "sister."
Linn hopes this resolves the issue.
"We're going to stay in contact and work with the parents, and I'm hoping that this would help," says Linn.
But for Berry and the other mother, the battle over bullying and what they say is a negligent bus company and bus driver isn't over. In Part 3 of "Bullying on the Bus," hear the bus company's side of the story and these women's next step Wednesday on WDEL's Delaware News at Noon.
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