No more deputies on Polk school buses

Polk County, Florida -- An alert for parents tonight whose children ride the bus.

The Polk County School Board has decided not to put deputies on school buses this year, a protocol that was put in place this past May after a 14-year-old boy was knocked out on the bus this past May.

For the last few weeks of school, off-duty deputies volunteered to ride along on routes to make sure kids are safe. Now parents want to know why this safety precaution is not taking place this year.

10 News asked the school board about security on the buses this year and while no one would talk to us on camera about the decision, they did release a statement reiterating that they are doing away with bus transfer routes and deputies on buses.

The decision has some parents upset. Especially when they remember the young boy who was attacked on the bus in May.

VIDEO: Child knocked out during bus fight

Alisha Styles is a one of those upset parents, especially since it was her son who was knocked out on the bus. it's worst.

"I was upset. I was shocked. Nobody wants to see their child harmed," says Styles.

Styles admits that she was happy when she heard deputies would be riding on the bus after her son's experience.

"I thought it was an ok thing to do, to keep kids from being in harm's way," says Styles.

She says taking deputies away is not a solution and wishes the district would have informed parents about the changes.

"Polk County School Board has to do better. Transportation has to do better," says Styles.

For now, Styles says she's thinking twice about putting her kids back on the bus, because the image of her son getting attacked is something that always plays out in her mind.

"I'm a bit overwhelmed. I have not one kid, but three kids getting on a school bust this year so what's going to happen," says Styles.

The first day of school for students in Polk county is August 18.

Read the full statement from the district below:

The district took a proactive approach to instituting measures to reduce the potential of reoccurring behavior problems, both violations of law and the code of conduct on the affected bus route(s). The measures we have taken so far to provide safe bus transportation include the following: This year we have eliminated bus to bus transfer points and added an additional bus to the route to ensure students are picked up and transported directly from their neighborhood to the alternative school site. This reduces the number of students on any given bus that are being transported to our alternative education site and lessens the potential for individuals with disputes to come together on the bus. Support Operations is having their annual in-service training before the start of school where all bus drivers and bus attendants will receive training regarding their role in conflict resolution, documentation and reporting. The director of discipline will also take an active role working with the school administration and transportation in the follow-up for code of conduct violations to ensure students who have breached their privilege to ride a bus are not on the bus to interfere with the students who are trying to take advantage of their second chance. The district never considered law enforcement on buses as a long term solution for the intermittent egregious behavior of a few individuals and is not including deputies as part of our changes this year. The district will continue to monitor bus safety and make adjustments where necessary, taking input from our community partners when instituting those changes.


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