An Oklahoma bus driver’s soft heart led to an ill-advised act that had severe consequences.
Katie Chapman was suspended without pay and later informed that she could be fired after she allowed a woman and a dog onto a bus full of schoolchildren.
Chapman has been employed by Vian Public Schools for seven years, according to KFSM. On Sep. 12, the bus driver said she saw the parent of one of the students that rides the bus, and out of concern for her safety, invited the woman and her dog on board.
At the time, according to the district superintendent Victor Salcedo, there were approximately 24 children on the bus.
The students, ranging from kindergarten through 12th grade, were told that the inclusion of a rider was a “one-time thing,” and, according to Chapman, the pooch involved in the incident was well behaved.
Now, some parents of the students who were on the bus that day aren’t happy about the incident, and neither is the school district. Salcedo has suggested Chapman’s termination, and parent Naticia Drew said her children might have been in danger.
“The kids got off of the bus about 3:30 p.m. They came [home] as usual, did homework, and then my sister comes in a little bit after 4 p.m., and her son had told his mom that [the bus driver] did something. Then, he grabbed his mouth really fast and said, ‘Oops, I wasn’t supposed to tell nobody,’” Drew told KFSM.
“He goes on to tell us–after we had asked him several times–that she had picked up an unknown stranger … a hitchhiker, I guess you could call her, and a dog, and allowed her to get on the bus with our kids. Not only did I feel like they were in danger, but anything could have happened to these kids. To make it even worse … for her to tell the kids not to say anything or they would have consequences or be in trouble for it.”
Drew also reported that there were previous issues with Chapman before she picked up a “hitchhiker.”
“Several situations … The kids have been late for 45 minutes because they told me she felt like she needed to call on some horses or some dog that were sick, and wait on animal control to get there,” Drew told KFSM.
Along with Drew, other parents complained to school officials about Chapman’s actions that day, according to reports. That led to a letter Chapman received from Salcedo, in which he recounts the incident in more detail, summarized here:
“On September 12, 2017, you were notified that a fugitive may be roaming the area around a district bus stop. Concerned about the safety of students, you asked for permission to drop off certain students at their residence rather than at the designated bus stop …
“While driving students to their residence, you encountered an individual by the side of the road with a leashed dog. You motioned the individual over to the bus and invited her to ride the bus the rest of the way to her residence … The individual boarded the bus with her animal and rode the bus the remainder of the way to her residence …
“You knew or should have known that the person you allowed to enter the bus had a criminal record and was currently on probation for drug related charges … By exposing students to an unauthorized individual, you violated the trust that parents place in our school district to keep their children safe …
“Our buses are for transporting students, not the public.”
Salcedo tells Chapman in the letter that he’s recommending her termination, and that she has 10 days to request a hearing with the board of education. Her termination recommendation is based upon Chapman having jeopardized others, through disregard for common safety practices and violation of a policy, among other counts.
Chapman reportedly said she allowed the woman on the bus out of concern for her safety. “I want somebody to understand that it was my choice of safety. It was a humanitarian act,” Chapman said.
Salcedo said Chapman should have called the police to assist the woman, or at least contacted a superior for permission, before allowing the woman and dog aboard the bus.
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