School Bus Sex Incident Sparks Concern In Westchester

WESTCHESTER, N.Y. -- A recent event in Orange County involving sexual misconduct between elementary school students on a school bus has sparked concern in Westchester.

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In Newburgh's school district, boys ages 7-10 had been engaging in sexual acts in the back of their school bus going to and from their elementary school for at least a month, the Times-Herald reported Sept. 13.

The boys had been coerced into the acts by the oldest boy, who threatened to harm their families, the report said.

The school district knew nothing of the incident until it received a call from a concerned parent about bullying. The district reviewed the tapes, which showed explicit sexual acts between the boys.

In Newburgh, video surveillance on buses is stored on a hard drive on the bus, and each day's recording is automatically overwritten after 30 days. No monitor was present. 

According to Dianna Wessel, transportation assistant for the New Rochelle school district, this kind of scenario would not be possible on their buses.

"We have monitors on every bus, and they don't just sit in their seat and face forward, they walk around," she said. "They make sure appropriate behavior is being enforced with all students."

Wessel told The Daily Voice that while having more than 200 bus routes makes it impossible to review every tape, the department of transportation works closely with the school.

"As soon as any incident, even verbal, occurs, it is immediately reported to us by bus monitors and drivers in writing. We pull the videotape, watch it, get the special needs director involved, if necessary, and the principal. The schools are largely in charge of discipline, but they're very reactive to any sort bullying," she said. 

Joseph Ricca, superintendent of Elmsford School District, said proactive steps are being taken by students and staff.

"Our students are working through their safety drills today," said Ricca, when reached on Sept. 18. "We take this very seriously and reinforce our expectations with our children daily. We have training for all employees and our children."

Liz Hausman, the information officer for Dobbs Ferry School, confirmed the district has a monitor on all of its buses. 

According to the White Plains school district website, district bus drivers are required to submit a written report on bus safety and conduct incidents to the school principal, who then determines the disciplinary action to be taken.

Serious or continuing problems are reported to the transportation office. However, cameras on the buses help the transportation office monitor bus behavior.

What do you think? Are adequate safety precautions taken on Westchester buses? Join the discussion below



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