The Boston Herald is reporting that an MBTA bus driver has been suspended for locking a group of “terrified” Boston Latin School students in her bus and then taking them on an angry ride because they kept pushing the stop strip…and wouldn’t stop.
WHDH TV in Boston is reporting that, according to a transit police report, the driver, Audrey Arrington, said students were acting up and falsely pushing the bell to get off. The report goes on to say she ordered a group of kids off the bus randomly in Roxbury (not their regular stop) and then headed for her base, an unfamiliar direction for the kids still on the bus. According to parents commenting on the Herald site, some of the kids who were forced off the bus were 12 and had no money or cell phones to call home.
As for the kids still on the bus, apparently some thought that they were being kidnapped. On the WHDH site, Craig Galvin is quoted as saying that he got a “terrified call from his 13-year-old daughter.” He says:
“All I heard was frantic screaming that the bus driver was taking them somewhere where we’re not supposed to be,” said Galvin. He then goes on to describe his feeling as his daughter tried to give him landmarks like a South Boston storage facility:
“Horrified, because I wanted to be able to help her, but I couldn’t. And I didn’t know where she was, nor did I know what was going on.”
Galvin called 911, and the police were waiting when the bus got to its home base.
According to the Herald, “Arrington told police she took that action because the students were pushing the bell to get off the bus, but when she pulled over no one got off and the pranksters wouldn’t confess, the report states. That’s when Arrington allegedly became angry and ordered one group out and then drove the remaining students — who were crying and screaming — back to her base, the police report stated.”
Among the students on the bus? Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s granddaughter.
The driver did not appear to be under the influence of any drugs or alcohol – she simply said that she had somewhere to be that day, and didn’t have time for the kids’ alleged shenanigans. According to WHDH TV, “The MBTA’s general manager made a statement saying that: ‘As public servants, MBTA employees must act in a professional manner at all times and never should they do anything to inflame a situation with customers.’”
For now, the driver is on paid leave, pending the outcome of an investigation this week, and MBTA officials say she will be disciplined.
The reaction from parents so far? All over the map. Some are accusing the driver of kidnapping. Some are coming to her defense with comments like “Hey, what was she supposed to do? At least she drove them to her base.” Still others are arguing that it’s really the kids—and, ultimately, their parents—who could use the disciplinary action: “The parents of the kids caused this problem. There is no discipline in the home. Kids today feel they can give any adult a hard time and not listen to them. This is not the 1st time the brats acted like this. Hey parents, wake up and smell the coffee.”
Still others are left scratching their heads about how times have changed. One commenter said: “You did something like that 40 years ago and the driver would stop the bus and kick your a** right off, and then your parents would do the same when you got home. Too much coddling these days.”
Most are pointing to the complete dysfunction of the entire situation, and the fact that the driver really needed to be the grown-up in the situation. She should have known better. Duh.