The headline for a front-page article in the Jan. 12, 2008 edition of the Payson Roundup heralded a ‘near-riot' on a Payson School District bus. A description of the actual events that afternoon might lead one to the conclusion that the headline was inaccurate and grossly overstated. The school district Director of Transportation made two attempts to provide factual material to the article by leaving messages for its author but his calls were never returned. As the editorial page of the same issue discussed, the schools have an obligation to "face the problem head-on and let the public know the problem is understood." We hope to accomplish at least part of that obligation by providing additional information.
The article leaves the impression that the bus drivers receive no training in matters of maintaining control of their buses. In fact, at the beginning of each school year, several hours of training are administered to those who will be driving during that year. The training is comprehensive and includes everything from CPR and first aid to maintaining discipline on the bus. In addition, the district has purchased training videos to use during the course of the school year as a refresher on control and discipline issues. The district and its employees take the issue of bus safety very seriously. Students and parents are required to sign a statement that clearly defines that riding the bus is a privilege and the types of actions that are not acceptable.
It is our philosophy that the bus is an extension of the school and classroom. The drivers and students on their buses are to be accorded the same respect as teachers and administrators are. The drivers take their charge very seriously, understanding the tremendous responsibility they have. It is our wish that the type of incident that occurred would never have happened or would never happen again. We will do our part by continuing to provide the training and trying to attract the best possible candidates for our district to do this very difficult task. We remain open to suggestions for improvement and desire, like the community does, to make Payson a district of excellence.
Todd Poer, Director of Transportation
Payson Unified School District
Editor's Note: For some reason the reporter covering the story discovered one phone message from Todd Poer after the story was printed in the paper. We certainly would have liked to talk with Todd before the story was published. We also were told by several Payson school district officials that no one was authorized to talk about the incident except the school superintendent.