In Hillsborough County, a school bus driver called the district when 7-year-old Isabella Herrera experienced trouble breathing on the school bus. The little girl had a neuromuscular disorder, and she later died.
The Hillsborough County school district could not comment because it’s in the midst of a lawsuit over the circumstances surrounding Herrera’s death.
But in Miami-Dade, Klein said calling a dispatcher is just as good as calling the police.
“We have access as quickly as they do to be able to call [the police], you don’t really save time,” Klein said. “But beyond that, the dispatcher can reach a wide variety of people and try to get the closest people there to be able to assist.”
Keeping kids in line
Sonia Hanson has been a school bus driver in Miami-Dade for the past 28 years. She says keeping kids in line is not an easy task.
“Your eyes have to constantly be rotating,” Hanson said. “You can’t just look straight ahead. You have to be able to drive, look around you, look in the rear view mirror to make sure the students are staying in their seat.”
And some students challenge the bus driver.
“They want to bully you, they want to be in control of the bus, having their head or their hands out the window,” Hanson said. “It’s stressful. Especially when you’re dealing with the traffic.”
The Florida Department of Education used to publish incidents of misbehavior on school buses. But it no longer does.
The most recent data, from 2007, shows there were more than 2,000 discipline incidents on school buses.
But middle school student Sarah Godby, 12, Robin’s daughter, says it’s the small things students do on a school bus that can really set the tone for the day.
“They throw rocks,” she said. “And they throw pens outside the window.
“It’s good from where I sit, but in the back it’s not the best,” she said.
Students who repeatedly misbehave can be suspended or banned from riding a school bus. But school bus drivers say that’s a last resort because it could mean a student isn’t able to get to school.