Let’s Learn from Our Mistakes Written by Tony Corpin | W

e have all heard the sayings: “To err is human,” and “You live, and you learn.” We make mistakes ev- ery day, large and small, failures

and faux pas. But often, failure and mistakes still don’t feel

like awesome learning opportunities. I know my shortcomings are what make me unique, and that I should embrace the stumbles and screw ups. We live and act in ways to prevent mistakes by not taking risks, expanding our comfort zones or jumping outside the boxes we hide in. School transportation departments go through this exercise daily. A recent failure by the Red Clay School District

in Delaware prompted a review of policies after a 5-year-old kindergarten student was left on a bus for nearly seven hours in freezing temperatures, according to a recent news report. Reported incidences of children being left

on school buses happen about twice per week, according to Brad Both, president of Child Check-Mate Systems. It’s all too common of an occurrence in our industry. Can’t policies, procedures, training, technology and people combat the issue? Red Clay School District said the incident was egregious. The article says the school bus driver is an employee of contractor Sutton Bus Company—which refused to comment when approached by reporters. But there was also a break-down in procedure by the child’s elemen- tary school, which failed to notify his parents that he did not show up. Only later did the boy’s mother learn about

the multiple safeguard failures. So, what happened? As you might have

guessed, the driver never checked her bus. That was even after several attempts from two students to alert her to the sleeping boy, accord- ing to the review of the bus video. At the end of the route, the footage also shows the driver get up out of her seat and walk off the bus, without performing her post-trip inspection. It was only hours later when she returned to the bus for the afternoon route that she found the boy.

50 School Transportation News • FEBRUARY 2019

“In our bus driver handbook, it’s grounds for immediate termination to leave a child on a bus,” a district representative said. “The driver is not ours, but we can, and we did request that driver no longer drive for Red Clay.” Why didn’t the school bus driver follow proce-

dure? Was it a lack of training? Carelessness by the driver? Bottom line, it’s about people doing what they’ve been trained to do. The bus reportedly had a child reminder sys- tem, an alarm that makes drivers intentionally walk to the back of the bus to check for students and disarm the system. According to the report, it’s unclear if the alarm was operating properly, or if the driver simply ignored it. “Training is important, especially during times when routines change,” according to Both. He recommends that training be empha- sized during school start-up, spring break and daylight savings time changes. “Our studies have seen incidents spike during those periods,” he explained. “You must break the cycle of bad behavior and the attitude of drivers that leaving a child on the bus can’t hap- pen to them, because it can.” The latest technology trend is integration be-

tween multiple systems, like Child Check-Mate Systems and Zonar. Real-time notifications allow administrators to act quickly to address a potential issue. The software can be tailored to force a driver to check their bus. But at the end of the day, people need to do their jobs and keep kids safe. On one hand, our mistakes and failures can be gifts, gems and guideposts in our learning and growth as peo- ple. On the other, we must also recognize that those mistakes can have tragic consequences. It is healthy to embrace failures, mistakes,

screw-ups and shortcomings. They not only make us uniquely who we are, but also teach us powerful lessons. Let’s just hope we don’t learn those lessons too late. ●

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