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Newton bus driver who caused accident terminated

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education has approved the termination of the bus driver who caused an accident that sent three students to the hospital.

At the recommendation of Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews, the school board unanimously approved during its monthly meeting on Tuesday the termination of Micheline Nicolas effective Sept. 16.

About 8:30 a.m. Sept. 15 at the intersection of Brown Bridge and Magnet roads, two buses from the Newton County School System were transporting students to Veterans Memorial Middle School when the bus on Magnet Road, driven by Nicolas, attempted to make a right turn and ran the stop sign. The front bumper of the bus struck the right rear of the bus on Brown Bridge Road.

No other vehicles were involved, and the Georgia State Patrol did not issue any citations.

Three of the 58 students on board the two buses were transported by ambulance to Newton Medical Center after complaining of minor injuries. They were given X-rays and released.

After Tuesday's meeting, Dennis Carpenter, deputy superintendent of operations, said that NCSS in the past has allowed drivers who caused accidents to remain employed, but it was usually an accident during which they couldn't see their blind spot or a similar situation. He said the system cannot employ a driver who didn't stop at a stop sign on a busy road and caused an accident.

Nicolas' drug and alcohol tests, which were given as required per school system policy, were negative, Carpenter said.

Each of the drivers involved was employed with the district for several years and has no prior accidents on their records, according to system officials.

Carpenter said he does not yet have damage estimates for the buses, which were each significantly damaged and left in inoperable condition.

Comments

Billy 3 years, 3 months ago

I hate that this person was fired. I don't believe this to be an egregious mistake, but then my child was not on that bus. I pray the person will find another job, more suited to her talents and abilities. Meanwhile, those of you who are ready to condemn this person should drive a school bus full of misbehaving children--let's see how well you do the job...

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John 3 years, 2 months ago

No one forced the driver to take the job in the first place & then keep it for several years.

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bigmike 3 years, 3 months ago

And yet Billy, people are quick to pull the trigger on firing teachers when they make mistakes. It's simple- accountability. This person screwed up and put lives in danger. I'm sorry, but if you can't do your job on a bus "full of misbehaving children" then it's time to do something else. The stakes are too high. You think running a stop sign and almost killing people isn't an egregious mistake?

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Chris 3 years, 3 months ago

Hi BigMike, no argument from me that the driver erred and the result could have been worse. Teachers have a tough row to hoe, but until recently they typically had classes of about 30 kids and may have had a teacher's aide. The drivers have 60-70 kids, no aide, one eye on the kids in the rearview mirror, and one eye on traffic while maneuvering a 40 foot bus, often in the dark and sometimes in the rain. Teachers have far better job protection in cases of poor performance. We need great teachers and great drivers, and they need to be on the same side. They are all under great pressure and get very little support relative to what is expected of them. They could all use a little empathy.

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John 3 years, 2 months ago

Just a few points - 1. Not all school buses are filled to capacity. 2. Teachers have 5 classes near max capacity 5 times per day - bus driver twice/day - main job get the children to & from school safely - no educate. 3. Since this was a reported "experienced driver" - the person had experience in driving skills, rules of the road & listening to the students raucous behavior for a period of time.

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John 3 years, 3 months ago

You are "Spot On" bigmike. As reported, this driver had "several years of experience" as a bus driver - no excuses acceptable for running a stop sign. It is not uncommon, like most every day, to observe school bus drivers "speeding" through subdivisions, at least mine, especially in the afternoon. I've had a driver pull their bus out in front of me on 278, speed limit 55 MPH, causing me to come to an almost complete stop, make a jesture & "cuss" a lot, Guess when they are in a hurry traffic safety laws don't apply.

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Chris 3 years, 2 months ago

Hi John, all you have to do is report the bus number to the school system's transportation department and they can download the recording, some of which even indicate the speed. State law is 40 mph maximum in most circumstances for school buses carrying passengers, even on state highways like 36 and 212. Call the state department of education and check it out. Ask what an express bus is and isn't. We can bring traffic to a complete standstill in Newton County if we can get full compliance by the drivers and administrators. Take your concern to the school board and they will have no choice but to crack down on compliance with state law, else they will be incurring substantially greater liability in the event of an accident. We could even take this campaign statewide and shut down ground transportation in most of the southeastern U.S. There are something like 25,000 school buses on the road in Georgia each day. Slow them all down to 40 and watch the nightmare unfold.

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Frustrated 3 years, 2 months ago

Im sorry the lady got fired but if she couldnt see another 40 ft bus coming up the road she sure didnt need to be driving a bus with chldren on board.

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