October 08, 2008
Children: Driver stopped school bus on RR tracks as threat
By LYDA LONGA
When Glen Teschner's 12-year-old stepdaughter was late arriving home from the school bus earlier this week, he and his wife began to worry.
When Campbell Middle School seventh-grader Hannah Westerbelt finally got home and told her parents the "bus driver tried to kill" her and 54 other children on the bus, the Teschners' jaws dropped.
"She said the bus driver had stopped the bus on the railroad tracks and threatened to leave all the children there to die," Teschner said Tuesday night. "She (the bus driver) lost it."
Volusia County Schools spokeswoman Nancy Wait said the incident is under investigation by the school district's Office of Professional Standards.
She said the driver, whose name she would not release because the claim is under investigation, has been placed in another job within the transportation division, "away from children."
"Bus drivers are supposed to stop at all railroad crossings
," Wait said. "They're supposed to be able to see 1,000 feet down the tracks. Sometimes they have to inch forward if they can't see.
"But we don't know what happened here so it's under investigation," Wait said.
Hannah told her parents, when the bus driver approached the railroad tracks at George Engram Boulevard in Daytona Beach after school Monday, two or three youngsters in the back of the bus yelled out, "Cuckoo! Cuckoo!," Teschner said.
At that point, the driver, an 11-year veteran with the Volusia County school district, lost her cool and began yelling at the children, Teschner said.
"Nine children we talked to all said the same thing: She said, 'You kids are so rotten and so wild that I'm going to take my child and get off the bus and leave you all on the bus,' " Teschner said. "The driver had her own child on the bus."
At that moment, the children said they could see a train coming
, said Teschner, who questioned the youngsters at his Daytona Beach Shores restaurant. Because the bus was stopped on the tracks, the children also said other motorists had begun driving around the large vehicle and were now lined up in front of it, giving it no room to go forward.
"There were also other cars behind the bus," Teschner said. "The kids got scared, and they started screaming and waving their arms at the people behind them so they would back up."
The children said the driver backed up the bus and, again, threatened to park on the railroad tracks if they misbehaved, Teschner said.
Teschner said he believes his stepdaughter and the other eight children who recounted the story because the youngsters are aware there are cameras on the bus and they could face consequences for lying.
Tape from the cameras was not made available Tuesday because it is considered a student record, Wait said.
As for Hannah, she will continue to ride the bus to Campbell Middle, Teschner said.
"She has a lot of friends (on the bus), and they'll protect her," Teschner said. "But I don't know, we may be driving her to school."email@example.com