Wednesday morning Connie's bus was 40 minutes late. I asked the driver what was the holdup for the day, and he said there had been an incident and he had to call the police which delayed pickups closer to the school. When I called the principal, he confirmed and said there had been a 2nd grade boy that brought a knife on the bus. I knew there had been a fight on the bus the day before (Connie didn't ride that day) so I wasn't sure if it was related. He also mentioned that the bus first picks up some special needs kids from another [Burroughs] distrisct before coming back to our neighborhood and picking up our kids on the way back, and it had happened during that portion of the route.
Thursday afternoon and evening, one of the the local news stations reported the story, criticizing the school for it's handling of the situation. This report spurned much criticism of our beloved school and principal. One mother even called the school ranting that the entire building should have been put on lockdown while every student was searched! I for one am glad that my 1st-grader was not subjected to such a panic-inducing reaction.
Tired of the continual negative commentary about Toledo Public Schools, I sent the following letter to the TPS superintendent, John Foley:
Now is a time for TPS to put a little spin on the bad press received last night on WTOL news. Hooray for the child(ren) who reported the knife to the bus driver!! This kid or these kids showed courage and integrity and did what was RIGHT instead of taking the easy way out and going along with the crowd. Like the brave passengers on the 9/11 flight that overtook the hijackers and prevented the flight from continuing to the US Capitol, they may have saved many other children from being exposed to or becoming victims of a crime.
Hooray for the bus driver who had the wherewithall to realize that this was a serious matter for the police. HOORAY for Mr. DeLucia who not only took time to call the parents of each additional child on the bus at that time to let them know of the averted crisis, but also made the WISE decision NOT to instill panic throughout the student body and community by spreading word unnecessarily about the incident, in which they were not directly involved.
I am a full-time mother whose child rides that bus. Bus drivers are difficult to find and hire. We put the lives of our children into their hands every morning and afternoon. We trust them to protect our children. The paticular morning, as on many others, I met the bus in front of my home and asked the driver what had made him so late. He then told me there had been an incident, the police were called, the principal was aware, and the children were safe. Later, I called Mr. DeLucia and was assured that the situation was taken seriously and handled apropriately. I place my utmost trust in our principal. He knows every child by name and is very invested in their wellbeing. Hooray for Mr. DeLucia! Hooray for TPS! Any kid anywhere can try to sneak a weapon into a "safe" area. I think this was handled very professionally and that to do more would've been brewing unwarranted alarm.
Shame on WTOL for alarming the public, and the non-bus riding parents of the Crossgates district. Shame on them for twisting it into a dramatic dirty laundry they did instead of publicizing it has the heroics of the Crossgates student body, bus driver and principal! Nobody was hurt on bus #733 because RIGHT choices were made, even if they weren't easy and didn't cover up something that could cast a negative shadow on the school.
VP Crossgates Parents Club"
The letter was copied to Parent members, Mr. DeLucia, and WTOL station manager. As of yet, I have received no response from Mr. Foley or WTOL - nor do I expect one. Response from the principal and other parents has been very supportive and complimentary!