Deferring discipline matters to a higher authority, like the principal, sends the message to students that their bus driver has no power. This is a situation that kids can easily take advantage of.
Many districts are allowing the driver to call the parents of misbehaving students directly. When the student tells others on the bus that the driver called his or her parents, this makes an impact throughout the entire bus. Under the system being used, a driver encountering misbehavior on the bus issues a warning to the student according to the rules. If the student continues to misbehave, the driver can then contact the parents that evening.
It has been found that some drivers need training in making these kinds of phone calls, but a few simple tips can result in successful outcomes. The driver can ask for the parent’s help regarding the situation before the driver has to resort to other measures. This also enlists the parent’s support.
Frequently the parents will start to defend their children before hearing the driver out. If the conversation starts to go in a negative direction, the drivers are trained to take down the name and number of the parent to call them back later, giving the parent a chance to talk to the child. The driver and parent can then discuss the situation and come to a resolution. It has been found that enlisting the parent’s help has kept many cases from having to go to the principal and/or resulting in a suspension for the student. Many principals and assistant principals say this frees up 20% of their day not having to deal with bus related discipline.
It is recommended that districts wanting to implement this sort of system form a committee to work out the details of a written policy and the associated paperwork, including discipline referral forms.