A Dallas mother not only had to deal with her 5-year-old daughter being bullied on a school bus by older children, she told CNN Thursday. Audrey Billings also had to pay the district $600 to see redacted video of the incident that left her daughter screaming to no avail for the bus driver, Billings told the news network. The child, who wasn’t identified in media reports, attends Montessori Dallas Charter school and was taking a 45-minute ride on the bus Nov. 11, 2019 with students from multiple schools in the Dallas Independent School District when three children from Sam Houston Elementary reportedly targeted Billings’ daughter, according to the local news station WFAA.
At one point in the encounter, the child was shown in video pushed against the glass of a bus window then put in a chokehold. “Bus driver, bus driver,” she had called out earlier. The child’s mother told WFAA that the bus driver could have ended the bullying right there. “How do you not respond to a child asking for your help,” Billings asked in the WFAA interview. She is calling for the bus driver to be fired and the Dallas Independent School District to overhaul its bullying policy. Her daughter no longer rides the bus.
The school district said in a statement to WFAA that it has responded to the incident. “Dallas ISD is aware of the incident and immediately took action to permanently move the bus driver to another route, following the concern,” the district said in the statement. “Additionally, students have been disciplined per the Student Code of Conduct. As always, student safety is our top priority, and we remain committed to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of all students.”
The all-too-common statement to the media obviously did little to assure Billings her child is now safe. And although I’m not sure firing the bus driver would address the apparent need for bus monitors, perhaps vetted parent or community volunteers could provide suitable stopgaps, the point being an actual stopgap is needed. That doesn’t mean shuffling the problem to students on another route who may not have parents who are willing or able to advocate for them the way Billings is for her daughter. That means actually solving the problem
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