HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Henrico County Public Schools bus driver raised concerns about students’ misbehavior and how the school system is handling it.
There have been 831 violations of Henrico Schools’ Code of Student Conduct (CoSC) on buses from August 2022 to March 24, 2023. Of those violations, 558 of them were disciplined, according to data sent to 8News from the school system.
Behaviors that violate Henrico Schools’ CoSC include fighting, cursing and not remaining in one’s seat.
Brenda Ridell, a bus driver for 10 years, spoke at a school board meeting in February.
“Behavior on the school bus has gotten totally out of hand,” she said during the public forum.
School buses with the most violations served Hungary Creek Middle School with 74. Right behind them are buses that served Fairfield and Elko middle schools with 65 each.
According to her, student behavior violations have gone up about 25% since Henrico Schools dropped the zero-tolerance policy.
But the school system told 8News Friday the Code of Student Conduct “has not had zero-tolerance language for almost 10 years.”
Henrico Schools dropped the zero-tolerance policy “so situations can be more fairly addressed on a case-by-case basis.” Zero tolerance mandated automatic recommendations for expulsion hearings for a number of offenses, regardless of age or other factors like whether a student has a disability.
Most violations are handled at the school level unless it involves a weapon, an assault, or something else that warrants more consequences, according to Henrico Schools.
However, Ridell said once bus drivers give referrals to the school, they don’t know what the outcome is or if the referral has even been read.
“Riding the bus is a privilege. It’s not a right. Please listen to bus drivers. We’re your ears and your eyes. If it’s going to happen on the bus, sooner or later it’s going to happen in the school,” she said.
Henrico Schools said students are still adjusting to in-person learning after being on lockdown during the pandemic. They’ve hired more counselors, social workers and behavioral interventionists.