It’s almost a rite of passage to have a childhood story of harassment on the school bus — but not anymore in Payson.
A generous donation from the Mogollon Sporting Association allowed the Payson Unified School District (PUSD) transportation department the ability to put cameras on buses. Now bus drivers and the bus barn can see exactly what happens on the bus from front to back and sometimes even what happens after children exit the bus.
When faced with conflicting accounts, Transportation Supervisor Mark Henning can simply review a video and get the story straight.
“It connects to the computer with a firewire and has 320 gigabytes of storage capacity — enough for a month’s worth of info,” he said.
If any problems arise, Henning takes the recording box out of the camera system and plugs it into his computer, which pops up a four-box view of the bus — just like the surveillance videos in the movies.
Buses now have four cameras installed. One looks out over the bus driver’s head to the stairway at the entrance of the bus. Another looks down the aisle to the back of the bus. A third sits in the center of the bus and captures the middle section. The last camera faces the front.
The cameras collect both images and sound. “I don’t want to say it’s all black and white, but it’s in color,” said Henning.
Already the videos have started to help.
Henning told the story of one parent who called him accusing the bus driver on her young son’s route of letting him off at the wrong bus stop.
The mother was especially panicked because the boy was missing at the time. He should have been at his after-school day care center, said the mother, but the center had called to report her son missing. The day care center blamed the bus driver.
Henning grabbed the video from the bus and watched as the bus driver let the child off at the day care bus. The video then showed him running around the back of the building.
Just as Henning was about to call the mother, the police called and said the boy had been found wandering down the street outside the day care center.
“I called the mother and told her what I had seen on the tape,” said Henning. “I said she was welcome to watch the video, but she said no, if there was a video there was no need. Then she apologized.”
He said the cameras have saved him so many headaches.
In another incident, a middle school student complained a boy was punching and twisting her arm on the bus. The boy’s parents were upset about the accusation. Turns out when Henning watched the video, he discovered she was roughhousing with the boy. He could see and hear everything.
“Most of the kids don’t think it works so well,” said Henning. “Parents say, ‘Wow, you can see everything.’”
Henning said the recording software allows him the ability to download a certain chunk of video, copy it then date and time stamp it.
“It’s a blessing,” said Henning.