Henrico Schools changes code of conduct after bus safety complaints

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico County Public Schools wants to make clearer expectations and consequences for behavior on the bus after drivers say hundreds of instances of code of conduct violations occurred over the last school year.

Henrico Schools previously said there were 831 total violations to the code of conduct on buses as of March this year, which concerned drivers who say they started to become concerned about their own safety. During a school board meeting in February, drivers voiced these concerns with the hopes that something would be done to address the issue.

Dr. William Noel, Director of the Disciplinary Review Hearing Office said this matter was taken into consideration.

“We’ve heard the concerns of our drivers,” Noel said.

In June, the school board approved changes to its 2023-2024 student code of conduct that added a section outlining the four levels of school bus violations and leveled consequences.

“Now we have something that’s definitely for bus drivers. It speaks to protecting bus drivers against assaults, against your language and things of that nature,” Noel said.

According to HCPS student code, school bus violations include infractions like eating or drinking on the bus, standing while the bus is in motion, ranging to more consequential violations like disobeying the bus driver, making threats, using profanity.

Depending on the level of the violation and the number of offenses, consequences range from verbal reprimand from the school principal or a conference with the student’s parent or guardian, to different spans of suspension or a potential ban from the school bus.

Noel said addressing student behavior both in school and on the bus in a collaborative effort and said these changes allow families and their students to understand what is expected of them.

“Ultimately, our goal is to make sure that everyone else is safe. And when there is a chance that I have to make that decision to unfortunately remove a student from the comprehensive setting, chances are they will go to one of our alternative settings where they can continue their education.” Noel continued to say, “the hope is for the violations to go down and disappear altogether.”