HOT SEAT: Video shows school official threatening students with hotter bus if they tell their parents
By Dwayne Bremer
Aug 11, 2017, 17:43
Hancock School District Transportation Director Michael Ray Ladner is at the center of controversy this week after a middle school student recorded him threatening to put children on a hotter bus if they complained about the heat to their parents.
A Hancock County School District's official this told a bus load of middle school children that there would be consequences and repercussions if the students continued to complain to their parents that their school bus was too hot.
In a three-minute lecture to the students, which was captured on video and posted on Facebook, Transportation Director Michael Ray Ladner said--among other things--that he was tired of complaints from parents and if the kids continued to tell their parents about the bus being hot, he would "hook them up" and put the children on an even hotter bus.
Superintendent Alan Dedeaux said Thursday that he has only received one complaint about air conditioning on one bus, which has a middle-school route.
In addition to complaining to the school district, several parents whose children ride HCSD buses took to social media and contacted the media this week to express their complaints about the bus.
Apparently, parents said, the air conditioning on the buses only cools the front half of the bus, leaving students in the back hot.
According to Dedeaux, the school has a policy that buses are not allowed to idle while students and faculty are boarding, thus the air conditioners cannot be turned on until the buses start to move.
"This is a safety policy," Dedeaux said. "It is the same for everyone, not just the children."
Dedeaux said tests were done on the middle school bus in question on Thursday and the air was working fine.
"After three minutes, the top temperature at the top of the bus went down from 86 degrees to 83," Dedeaux said. "The floor of the bus went from 51 degrees to 49."
As more time elapsed, the temperature began to drop even more, he said.
"It just takes a little while to cool off the entire bus," he said. "This is one of our shorter routes, so maybe that is part of it."
Students are also not allowed to roll down the windows while the air conditioners are on, officials said.
Parents say problems with the buses has been an ongoing issue for the past few school years, but things came to a head this week, when several kids began to come home "full of sweat," one parent said. On Wednesday, dozens of parents called and sent emails to the school about the bus.
That apparently led Ladner to step on to the bus, which held about 55 middle school students and speak to the children.Ladner spoke in a relatively calm tone, but he warned the students not to complain to their parents, or things would get worse.
"I've had about 40 phone calls from parents on this bus, complaining about what?" Ladner asked. "I can hook y'all up. I've got a bus, 14 years older that this bus, with no air conditioning. You can have it all year long. I know it's hot. It's not going to cool as much as home. It will never be 70 degrees in this bus. It ain't that bad on here, but y'all going home and telling your parents how bad it is. It's going to get worse if I give you the other bus. That's the only other option."
Dedeaux said he has viewed the video, but could not make any comment about it because it is being considered a "personnel matter."
He said that the district is looking at options to improve the situation on all of the school buses, not just the one in question.
"We have 80 buses and this is the only one that we have received complaints on but we will resolve the issue with this one."