Saturday, March 15, 2008

Special-ed monitors for buses planned

Dean urges action; 2 lawsuits allege sex abuse By JAIME SARRIO • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • March 15, 2008 Metro school officials want to add monitors to every special-education bus after reports of sexual abuse, but they're unclear where to get $4.85 million to pay for the workers. At the mayor's urging, interim schools Director Chris Henson on Friday released a plan to improve safety on all buses. The plan includes additional training for drivers, cameras on every bus and more monitors for the district's 217 special-education buses. The district currently has 15 monitor positions. "There's not an easy answer, and it is something that every district is trying to address," Henson said. "Obviously, adding additional adults on the bus would make a difference, but we believe that better training and better communication makes a difference as well. And that's not something that has cost implications." Henson said the district has started implementing improvement plans. The call to action comes after two parents filed separate lawsuits against the district, claiming their special-needs children were sexually abused on buses. Last month, a 14-year-old Rutherford County girl alleged an 18-year-old boy raped her on a regular bus. He's charged in the crime. According to school officials, staffing bus monitors is a challenge. The position pays $24,000 annually, and monitors work a split shift. The district is trying to fill five positions. Metro runs 589 buses daily and transports 45,000 students.

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