I should change the name of my blog to Drama Mama. There always seems to be some kind of drama around me. This time it involves Leon’s ADHD, and someone losing their job.
Here’s the story: On Tuesday morning (day before yesterday) I put Leon on the school bus as usual and then had a small chat with my friends on the corner for a few minutes, after the bus drove away. I went back into the house and proceeded to change the baby’s dirty diaper. I am practically up to my elbows in poop when I hear someone at the door. I wipe up and grab my little naked tushed baby to go answer the door. It’s James, the school bus driver. I am a little surprised and caught off guard, he tells me that I need to come and get Leon off of his bus. So I tell him to give me just a minute while I grab a blanket to wrap around the baby. I step outside and as we walk towards the bus I ask James what happened. Now James is a little gruff and doesn’t always speak to clearly, but the gist of it was that Leon would not do what he was told and that he just doesn’t listen. I was not too surprised by this, given that Leon has a hard time of it in the mornings, and with the recent time change this weekend he’s had an even more difficult time keeping it together. I explained to James that Leon has ADHD, a neurological disorder that effects his behavior and that sometimes it takes a while for his medication to kick in. James climbed onto the bus and yelled back at Leon to come to the front. I definitely was not happy about having my child get kicked off the bus. I was upset with Leon and sent him too his room while I got the baby dressed and myself properly dressed to take Leon to school myself. On the way there I tried talking to Leon about it but he was too upset to talk. So when I dropped him off I asked to speak with his teacher, to kinda give her a heads up. She was not available at the time (but called me later in the day). Meanwhile I asked to speak with the school social worker who is working with Leon on his self-esteem issues. I explained the situation and asked that she speak to him since he was on the brink of tears but unwilling to speak to me about it. Later she called me and told me that he was doing fine and that they discussed bus safety and the right way to behave on the bus. She also told me that Leon did not like it when people yelled at him (meaning me and the bus driver). I’ll admit I had had a short fuse that morning, I guess the time change effected me to. When Leon got off the bus after school, I asked him how things were going, and how he felt about that morning’s events. He said that he was upset because James yelled at him and embarrassed him and that’s why he didn’t want to go back to school, and that that was why he felt like crying. In discussing it some more I found out a bit more information about what had happened. Apparently Leon was misbehaving and James was yelling for him to stay in his seat and to stop changing seats (that’s reasonable, there’s no reason for my son to bounce from seat to seat) and when Leon did not do as he was told, James told him that when they got to the school he was to come to the front of the bus to talk to him or he was going to take him home. Once James had picked up all his passengers and arrived at the school he told Leon to step to the front. Leon refused (because he wanted to go home because he was embarrassed). So when Leon refused, James then turned the bus around and headed back to my house with Leon and all the other children still on board. That’s when I got the knock on my door and the rest you know. I have to admit I was not happy with how this played out at all! I had to figure out what I was going to do about this. In talking to my friends (fellow moms at the bus stop), I was convinced into thinking that James was looking out for our (Leon’s and/or mine – not sure) best interest by bringing Leon to me rather than report him to the school, where this would be in his file, and I might get stuck driving Leon to school permanently. I spoke with Ron and we agreed that I would pull James aside the next morning and speak to him privately.
So yesterday morning I got up bright and early and prepared a little note with my phone number on it asking James to call me. I wanted to discuss with him the nature of Leon’s illness and how it effects his behavior. I wanted to ask that he not single Leon out in front of everyone in the future and that he come to me directly without an audiance to make Leon feel even more badly about himself. I never got to have that conversation. The bus pulled up and James was not the driver. Hmmmm….
In the afternoon we were told that James was not coming back. Huh???? Rumor was he was fired. The neighborhood was all a buzz. How could this happen? Who reported him? Personally, I was feeling guilty. I think I was responsible for this man losing his job. I certainly did not want him to lose his job. Despite this (admittedly huge) lack of good judgement, I liked him. He was a good man, safe, nice to the kids, nice to the parents…. I had made a conscious choice NOT to report him. Apparently someone else did.
This morning at the bus stop, everyone was talking about it, while I was feeling guilty about it. We spoke with the new bus driver and tried to get some info about what happened and who reported it and if there was anything we could do to help him get his job back. He told us that there was nothing we could do, what James did was illegal and he put the students in danger, he also said it was the school who reported him. Word spread fast through the grapevine and soon I was getting calls from my neighbors with the phone numbers of the bus company and the School Super Intendant asking that I make a phone call asking they don’t fire James. Personally, I don’t want to see anyone fired, especially in these times, but the fact is this man went about this all wrong. He made a very bad decision and now he has to suffer the consequences. I did however do my part and made the calls. I eventually ended up speaking to the Asst. Super Intendent who was the one responsible for making the decision to fire James. He was eager to talk to me since it was my child that was involved in the incident. He told me that he had been hearing reports from several areas and wanted to hear from me what had happened and he apologized for the extremely irregular behavior on the part of the bus driver. I explained that while I agreed whole heartily that the choice James made was very wrong I did not want to see him lose his job. The man explained that deciding whether or not a child maybe on a bus is not a decision a driver is authorized to make, nor is it ever acceptable for anyone to remove children from school property with out authority, and the fact that he brought the students to the school and then removed them again it could be considered kidnapping. He is also guilty of abandoning the children on the bus when he left them alone on the bus to come to my door. Well, when you put it that way…. But still… I really did not want him fired. time off without pay for a while, something like that. I asked him to consider James’ file, if he has a clean record perhaps they could chalk it up to everyone is entitled to one mistake. In the end he said he would review it but he did not want to give me cause for optimism. At least I made the call and did what i could for the man, but the hard truth is that he made his bed and now he has to lie in it. I am pretty sure that if this were someone else’s story, not my kid, or my bus driver, or my bus stop, I would be horrified at the thought of a school bus driver bringing the students on school grounds and then immediately turning around and taking them off school grounds not knowing where he was going or finding out he left them on the bus alone with the doors wide open for anyone to walk on or off.
The question is still out there as to who actually reported it. I don’t really think it matters but everyone seems to be curious. My thought is that either the social worker reported it based on what I told her that morning, or it could have been Leon’s teacher given that she was told by one of his classmates that Leon was not coming in to school because he was so bad that James had to take him back home, it could also be the teacher on bus duty who might have seen him pull in with all the kids on board and then leave again with all of them still on board, or it could have been one of the parents of one of the students who found out that their child was taken for a ride.
So much drama…..