Safety a concern as bus door closes on student's head
A September incident on a Lake Oswego school bus raised safety concerns for one family in the district.
On Sept. 30, while a Lake Oswego elementary student exited the bus at her stop, the doors closed prematurely and her head was caught between the two sliding panels.
The reasoning behind the incident varies depending on the source.
The family, who wished to remain unnamed, was informed by the school that while at the bus stop, another student had spilled milk in the back of the bus, distracting the driver as he closed the doors.
However, Pamplin Media Group was told by a Student Transportation of America spokesperson that while at a bus stop, the driver's vision was obstructed when another student walked up to speak to them and inadvertently blocked the driver's view of the stairwell. Once the doors closed on the student's head, they were instantly released due to the bus safety mechanism.
"We sincerely apologize to both the student and the student's family," said a Student Transportation of America spokesperson. The Lake Oswego School District contracts with STA to transport its students.
When the student arrived home, she informed her mother what had happened. Following the accident, the student's ear was a bit swollen, and she complained of pain.
"I'm disappointed and upset STA didn't put more emphasis on resolving this with my family. They were very clearly focused on avoiding any responsibility," the father said after being informed by Pamplin Media Group about the student blocking the driver's view.
The father said the family was in touch multiple times with the primary school his daughter attends following the incident. He said they were sympathetic. However, the family's multiple requests to view the video surveillance that showed what happened was not granted due to privacy concerns.
According to STA, the driver has been employed with STA since 2015. They were removed from the route after the incident, but after retraining they remained employed within the district.
"The safety of the students we transport remains our highest priority, and it has always been the policy of STA to adhere to the highest safety standards in each and every aspect of our operations," the STA spokesperson said.
The family's main concern also is safety. The father hopes that this issue will bring forth more solutions so that other students are not hurt in the future.
The Lake Oswego School District mirrors a national trend, where school bus drivers are scarce. To alleviate the issue, many drivers are picking up additional routes, which can cause some delays during pick-ups and drop-offs.
"Some of these buses have been 30 to 40 minutes behind schedule, and it's scary to imagine the frazzled drivers rushing from stop to stop. It's a dangerous situation," the father said.
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