Program to Reduce Unsafe School Bus Behavior

In my 1.5 years of consulting with St. Paul Schools and transportation I was able to reduce the incidence of unsafe school bus behavior by 56% with a program that promoted team work between parents, students, bus drivers, school administrators, transportation managers, contracted school bus managers, PBIS workers, and school social workers.

Upon coming to the Minneapolis area, I started working in a public school environment.   I began developing methods that could help school bus drivers manage behavior during the child and adolescent’s most unsupervised, peer interactive, and potentially dangerous part of the school day – the school bus ride experience.   To add challenges to the task, school bus drivers, in general, are notorious for doing nothing to intervene into behavior, or to do so in ineffective or even abusive ways.  When St. Paul Schools went looking for someone to help them reduce the unsafe behavior on the buses and the abuses of school bus drivers, they found me.   I had become an expert in this area by first becoming a school bus driver and then developing things that worked while alone and driving a commercial vehicle with 60 kids on board.  

St. Paul schools became highly concerned about the violence, physical and psychological, on the bus rides.  They were also concerned about the amount of school bus related suspensions resulting in missing school, especially among students of color who were being suspended at a higher rate.  So they hired me to develop and train staff and drivers in new ways to manage and respond to kids showing unsafe behavior on the bus rides.  During the first full year of my program, covering half the schools in the district – K-12, behavioral incidents reported by drivers were reduced by an impressive 56% compared to past years. 

I did not do this alone, it took the cooperation of a team of planners, school bus drivers, parents, students, school administrators, school social workers, the management of 5 different school bus companies that contracted with St. Paul Schools, and the transportation department of St. Paul Schools.  What I did was help develop the program and then train staff – drivers, administrators, school social workers – train parents and children, and train the various school bus companies in the implementation of the program.  As one can imagine, it had to be a team effort to accomplish such a significant result in 18 months of employment.

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