February 20, 2008 - Dear Parents and Community Members: Higley Unified School District is facing a difficult and complex situation that occurred on a district bus on Friday, February 15, 2008 involving a district bus driver and students.
February 20, 2008
Dear Parents and Community Members:
Higley Unified School District is facing a difficult and complex situation that occurred on a district bus on Friday, February 15, 2008 involving a district bus driver and students. The safety and security of our students is the number one priority of every staff member in our district. Our student and staff codes of conduct are designed to ensure student safety. Unfortunately when complex situations arise, it is sometimes difficult to determine how best to ensure children’s safety. More than likely you will have the opportunity to view from video footage across local news channels what did occur on this bus on February 15th.
However, given that only segments will be played, please realize that the full context of the situation really requires a viewing of over fifteen minutes of footage to view the full context. And even then, not everything that occurred is fully visible in the footage and, therefore, a complete investigation is necessary. This footage was released by the Gilbert Police Department, as is standard policy. The footage is available because many of our district school buses are equipped with video and audio equipment.
Given the context I have described for you, please be aware once you have seen this footage that our district is investigating the situation in detail now that the police investigation has been completed. Due to the complexity of the situation and privacy policies, the information I can provide is limited.
A district investigation is being conducted which involves reviewing the video footage, conducting interviews and reviewing district policies and procedures. While we are conducting the investigation, the bus driver is on paid reassignment to home.
Please let me also describe for you the role of a district bus driver. It is their job to transport district students to and from predetermined locations (bus stops near their homes) to school. The stops are designated to ensure only safe stops are utilized. Undesignated stops are not permitted. It is also the bus driver’s job to ensure that no one other than assigned students, district personnel, and police and emergency personnel are allowed to enter the bus.
It is our goal to get to the heart of this complex and difficult situation and appropriately discipline those involved. We also intend to use this as a “teachable moment” in our schools to remind all staff and students of our codes of conduct, as well as bus safety. Disciplinary procedures are underway for students based on their degree of involvement.
We appreciate your patience and privacy as we take the necessary time to conduct our investigation. Once the investigation is complete, I will provide you further information as appropriate.
Questions regarding this matter should be directed to my office at 480-279-7014.