Letter: Can We Please Fix This Already?

Recent events in Lakewood have made it clearer than ever that the way we go about sending our children to school needs to be fixed.

Several days ago, my son’s bus never showed up, but my wife saw it driving a block away, and hailed it down. The driver told her that he had already finished his route (how that could be, we don’t know) but said he would take my son and another child for whom the bus also never showed, to school.

Over an hour later, he still had not shown up at the school. I frantically began making calls – to Chaveirim, police, anyone really – with extreme dread gripping my heart like a vice. What happened to my son and his friend?

It turns out that while the bus driver had agreed to take my child to school, he had no plans of altering his own schedule. He drove the children into Jackson, picked up his wife and children, ran an errand at a store, and only then brought my son and his friend to school. If you don’t find this story insane, I don’t even know what to tell you.

Another person recently told me that their daughter came home with money. Where did she get it from? A male bus driver who said she gave it to her because “he liked her.” As a parent, hearing that is concerning. I would hope nothing malicious was intended with the gesture, but it is, at the very least, a weird thing to do.

For the past few days, I have been driving my child to school; I’m honestly scared of sending him back on the bus. Can I trust the drivers? Have they undergone background checks? Are they remotely sensible and responsible? I really have no idea.

What we need is for every single bus carrying young children to have monitors on them – a second adult that can 1) ensure that the children onboard are behaving and not terrorizing other children or acting dangerously, and 2) to make sure that the bus drivers themselves are acting appropriately, safely, and responsibly.

I know TLS previously ran an opinion piece calling for bus monitors, but opinion pieces and awareness aren’t enough. People might read it and think about it for a bit, but eventually, they move on. What we need is for our civic leaders – Township Committee members, Assemblymen, Senators, Congressman – to stand up and use their powerful positions to make this change.

I hope that they will read this harrowing story, remember their oaths to help their constituents, and make meaningful progress on this issue. And I hope everyone else reading this will take it upon themselves to reach out to our elected officials to take action, as well.

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  1. Why would you put a child on a bus that was not going to your school? If the bus is empty and that route is done the bus driver is a stranger with no where to be, no schedule and no supervision. The only safety we have with the drivers are that they are bound to a tight schedule and there are a bunch of kids on the bus together. Sorry but you were wrong for sticking your kids with a stranger. The drivers are not working 24 hours a day to drive the kids. It’s a route and that’s that. Agreed the busing needs to be fixed but having a monitor wouldn’t have helped because they would’ve gotten off the bus when the route is over.

  2. A school administrator told me directly that they desperately want to hire bus monitors, but cannot find anyone willing to take the job. Maybe you can start a service providing bus monitors? The funding is readily available.

  3. Yes, bus monitors are a great idea & I’m surprised this concept hasn’t been implemented yet… it’s common sense to have supervision on buses.

  4. Firstly, I’m assuming this letter was written last year and only posted now, since the letter writer states things like “several days ago”. and school only started yesterday or 2 days ago. (depending on school)

    I think the only solution is for all parents to go to their school administration and petition to have private bussing (the way chasideshe schools and a very very few non chasidishe schools do) This way the school picks their own drivers (hopefully heimish) They are also the ones in direct contact with the drivers so if something happens ie: child got on wrong bus, it’s easy to trace. The school then submits their routes and some other things to the LSTA and they get reimbursed for the expense. It’s still LSTA bussing ie: children who live close have to pay some, but the schools are the employers of the bus drivers and not the bus companies. as an added benefit, there is bussing on legal holidays, sundays, early dismissals etc.

  5. There is GPS tracking on every bus monitored by the bus companies. They choose not to share it with us.

    Go to here comes the bus .com for an example of a software that Lakewood could implement allowing each parent to know exactly when their childs bus is arriving.

  6. Getting bus monitors is just not going to happen. First of all the case that happened with your children is totally a isolated case. 99% if us are very happy with the bus system here in Lakewood. Additionally there’s a major shortage in obtaining enough bus drivers for our growing township, therefore Bus Monitors just WONT happen.

  7. There also has to be enough seats on the bus for the monitor. Last year my girls’ bus was always very full (even when no extra girls came on.) At the end of the year, they often had a bus monitor from the company (sometimes with a child) but there weren’t enough seats (and they didn’t want to sit with the bus monitor, who is an adult stranger.)

  8. @berel if you truly believe 99% of lakewood parents are happy with bussing situation I’m not sure who you asked!!!
    Most ppl I speak to are not happy at all.
    We’ve had nasty driver, some that cursed,drivers that drive like meshugenes,that don’t stick to schedule,come early or late without warnings or not showing up at all.,
    They are very nice drivers too but I’m really not sure it’s the majority.

  9. Everyone wants to complain but no one wants to step up. If you really cared parents would get together to pay a decent wage so they can find qualified monitors. But as usual when its a choice between money and kids, the money comes first.

  10. I took my teenage daughter off buses after she was left for last stop randomly (wasn’t the usual stop) and then the driver got off, locked her in the bus, and went to use the restroom. She was scared of him and didn’t realize she was the last one until it was too late. I warned all my kids never to stay alone on the bus and get off at any stop before (even though 2-3 kids alone don’t help much either.) I also gave her a phone to keep on her (battery out during school) for the days I didn’t have a way to pick her up. She is traumatized from this situation although bH nothing happened. For those saying 99 percent are happy, that’s not true, maybe 99 don’t have major stories but everyone I know is frustrated to some extent. No one feel safe either they turn a blind eye. Why are we waiting for chas vshalom something to happen? I know there is a shortage. Drivers should be paid more so that safer people want the job and bus companies get to choose.while we are on the topic I don’t either understand how parents allow kids and teenagers to take car services (or even a woman alone)….

  11. Chassdim have no issues with this.
    Get organized. there is plenty of money just look around youll see it and get yiddish buses. stop blaming everyone else!

  12. I SUPPORT THIS 100% !!!
    In Israel is is STANDARD practice and every single school does it, even if the driver is frum!

    The way they do is is by requiring EVERYONE that works in the school pitch in. It is included in the job of every Rabbaim/Morahs and Secretaries they have to take shifts doing bus monitor duty.

    If everyone reading this goes to there individual school principal and ask them to implement this maybe we can get this started.

    We should not have to wait to a tragedy, ch’s for this crucial child safety issue to be addressed.

  13. My child’s driver shows them youtube clips on his phone and bought some of them ice cream. They all “love” him. It seems he’s a good person who i is trying to make the trip pleasant but the lack of supervision makes me uneasy…

  14. There is a severe shortage of bus drivers currently. Get ready to find out that there is no one to take your route.
    Bus monitors are a must, but never gonna happen…unless parents actually get involved and offer to volunteer on a rotating basis.

  15. I agree with mom. The fact that you have busing is a miracle. Having a normal bus driver is an “extra”. The only way to have a monitor would be parents taking turns

  16. Instead of bus monitors which would be ideal but not very feasible, how about live video cameras on each bus with the ability for parents to check in on their kids while they are on the bus.

    • just imagine what will happen when your tzaddik’l got into a fight with someone else. you saw your child as innocent. the other parent saw their child as innocent and blames your child… there’s a reason classroom videos aren’t made public. this is no different. there should be constant videos that perhaps the yeshivos can monitor. but it’s just not feasible for the parents to have constant access to it all…

    • There ARE video cameras on most busses!!
      So why cant that be made accessible to parents to view?!!
      AND to view the gps trackers on the busses?!

  17. I agree. Several years ago, when I was still in high school and the last girl on the bus, the driver started making some inappropriate comments one day and from that day on, I did not go on the bus with that driver until the end of the year. because I was old enough to understand that something was off, we were able to do something about it. But young children will not know that something is wrong or inappropriate and we allow our children onto a bus with a stranger.
    I agree something must be done about this!!!

  18. Great.
    Everybody wants Askonim and leaders to take care of their problems. But nobody wants to pay for it . Same with girls schools . We are loosing many of our experienced teachers because the tuitions are not enough to pay them well and they can’t even pay for their baby sitters . They are going to work in businesses instead.
    If parents really cared ,they would pay enough for decent teachers salaries and bus monitors etc etc. But it’s easier to complain and wait for others to take care of it .

  19. The busing situation is a joke. I think they should rename it while taking out the UING from it because that’s all it is.

    My relatives in Lakewood complain complain complain complain all day about busing. Where I live, we don’t have busing, we have carpools or the kids walk to school. It’s one advantage of living in a smaller location with thousands of people and the schools were centrally located.

  20. Somehow all chasidish schools figured out private bussing in no time. While all other are still complaining with constant new horror stories………..

  21. Well i sent my daughters to a newer school a few years back who promised us bus monitors. Of course that along with many other promises were not kept. Its unsafe, and irresponsible. Do we have to wait for a tragic story occur? The principal said a whole day of learning can go out the window with a bad busride home ie bullying etc…. Forget about the safety concern.

  22. You don’t need bus monitors. They can be just as unsafe as the drivers. You need someone from in the school – rebbeim, teachers, even assistants would be helpful – to be on the bus and ensuring the the kids are safe and under control. You can say that’s impossible, the schools won’t agree to it and neither will the bus companies. But until that happens, please don’t think that kids are safe on buses.

  23. I was involved in this story and I would like to bring out a few points.
    I know first hand that the driver clearly told the mother that he has to make a stop before taking her son to school. His son goes to the same school as this child and he went to pick up his own child before taking them both to school.
    I would of never sent my son on an empty bus alone.
    The driver was doing her a favor on his own time without getting paid for it
    I have no problem with the scoop giving my email address to the mother if she wants to reach out to me.

  24. What were you thinking sending your kid alone on the bus? Without taking his #? You chose a random person to give your kid a ride to school and then blame the bus drivers??? Not sure why you trusted him to begin with. Seems like your bad judgement

  25. Bus monitors cost $$. In this town where we are lacking funds for teachers and buildings bus monitors are really not at the top of the list. Bussing is free. Many towns don’t get free bussing. If you find the bus an issue you can’t rive your child or pay for private transportation.

  26. When I was in eighth grade my driver got mad at me for some inane reason. He proceeded to stop the bus, push me up against the window, grab my yarlmuka off and stuff in to my pants. He then continued to do his route like nothing had happened. I just sat in my seat shaking. He made sure to tell me not to tell anyone what happened because if I did I would get in to lots of trouble with the Board of Ed. Being a naive young kid I believed him and did not tell anyone. Thank God I got over it pretty quickly but many others possibly wouldn’t. So yes, I agree with the letter writer.

  27. For all those who are saying its the money: Its not the money. The schools are willing to pay for bus monitors. They told me themselves. The problem is that no one wants the job. Do you or does someone you know want the job? Contact the school (any of the larger schools) and they will be hired.

  28. You think this story Is terrible ?? I was in Philadelphia PA when I was younger I remembered my bus driver drove me to their house. Then they took expressway which they’ve not been allowed. I understand this driver should be under investigation and bus should now days video cameras installed and GPS monitor too. You can file investigations on the bus driver immediately!!!

  29. Last year there was a major issue with my daughter’s bus. She was in primary and the driver was super scary and she was terrified to get on the bus. After picking her up from school for a few days, I had enough. I offered to be the bus monitor for a few days in order to help her adjust. First lesson- the school said they would love to have monitors and LSTA allows, but there’s no one willing to go. It doesn’t work for school staff to go because primary leaves early and the staff are needed in school for other responsibilities.
    Second lesson- the driver let me on and was actually happy I was there. The kids were better behaved which allowed the driver to focus on the road more.
    Third lesson- it’s not fun to be an on a bus every day. It’s nauseating and uncomfortable.
    Fourth lesson- the bus driver did drive wildly and I was scared many times but the driver never got into an accident and I honestly didn’t blame the driver for getting frustrated with local drivers. Sometimes I wanted to yell at them myself! Traffic is also awful.

    In conclusion- having a monitor on the bus is a great thing. If parents were required to ride the bus once a month, it would keep these issues to a minimum. I’m not saying it’s easy because it isn’t- and what will people do with their other kids?- but it would make bus rides much safer for everyone.

  30. There should be an independent bus jord we’re complaints can be submitted and investigated. The bus companies can not be trusted to discipline thier own companies.

  31. To a good school bus driver: the parents of each bus stop should chip in and give the driver a cash tip in an envelope once a week; if the driver has an attitude or is incompetent don’t give anything.

  32. As a school bus driver in lakewood I question this story… firstly not one of the drivers at the company I drive for would volunteer to take your child to school once the route is over, you missed the bus it’s your problem not mine… secondly no bus driver is giving your child money cuz “they like them”… last year my public school kids had dropped some fortnight stickers on my bus and the primary girls took them home and told their parents I gave them stickers… they parents deemed said stickers inappropriate and I almost got in trouble… they looked at the tapes and that saved me the grief of defending myself because the little girls wanted to lie about the guyish bus driver who’s job and family don’t matter… I go out of my way when possible to do house stops and make bus rides and stops as easy as I can for both primary kids and the parents of them that are supposed to be out at the stop to put them on the bus and to get them off the bus (at least 80% do not)… please before you complain about us and what we should do, make sure you’re doing your part also to make the ride to and from school as easy as we can on everyone involved including your children… Side note, children are to be out at stops 10 minutes before and should wait till 10 minutes after the posted pick up time… this is lakewood after all and traffic is unpredictable…

  33. Three cheers for Nick! The best bus driver!!!

    Yes bus monitors are necessary and I’ve had scares with different drivers
    But Nick is the best! Thank you for giving us a great year!

  34. There is a shortage of drivers. This is not so easy to fix. These stories are rare. And bear in mind, when we grew up and had immigrant bus drivers friend brighton beach who smoked in our faces and yelled at us, it was ten times worse

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