Leader Blues

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>Kids, dope don't mix with driver

He’s been driving a bus for the Pulaski County Special School District for 22 years, and this summer he drives a van for special-education students who attend a summer program at the Jacksonville Middle School for Boys.

The driver doesn’t want his name in the paper, but he’s worried about some of the kids on his van who are into the drugs, especially the 15-year-old who was arrested a couple of weeks ago at the school for marijuana possession, although the driver thinks the kid was a dealer.

“He had two large bags of marijuana in his backpack, plus another small one,” the driver says.

“He turned 15 the day he got busted,” the driver continues. “I don’t like this stuff.”

He wishes he could talk to the boy’s parents, but the driver says they’re in prison for selling crack cocaine.
“He lives with his grandmother,” the driver explains.

You have to give her credit for that — what with his disability, it’s not easy raising a teenager who gets into trouble.
The driver complains about how kids are caught using and dealing drugs, and he still has to drive them around as if nothing happened.

He says the 15-year-old was arrested at school, and the driver didn’t see the boy for three days, and then he was told to pick up the kid again at his home and take him to school.

During his three-day suspension, the student missed a couple of field trips, but other than that, he gets to finish the summer-school program since his court date isn’t until July 30, which is a few days after summer school ends.

The driver says he heard the student and a friend talk about the upcoming court date while they were riding home on the bus last week, but the 15-year-old wasn’t too worried.

Since he’s just a kid, he’ll likely get a lecture from a juvenile judge, but what worries the bus driver is that he’s driving kids around with marijuana and other contraban in their backpacks.

“I know the boy needs help, but this isn’t right. All the kids know he was arrested. The supervisor knows about it. She told me not to worry about it, just take the kids home and pick them up,” he says.

“I don’t know where they grow this stuff. Maybe they grow it out on the farm. This makes me sick to my stomach.”
It’s not as if he doesn’t want to give the kid another chance, but why should he be riding the bus with other students and maybe get them into trouble, too?

“We need to get him out of circulation,” the driver continues. “There’s a sign in front of the school that says, ‘This is a Drug- Free, Gun-Free Institution.’”

The school says the summer program is run by a private organization, so the school won’t accept blame for the incident.
During the school year, the middle school is doing all it can to keep kids in line, but if you visit the school, you get the eerie feeling that it looks like a juvenile lockup, where that 15-year-old kid could wind up someday.