DOUBLE SPRINGS - A concerned mother voiced a complaint to the Winston County Board of Education at their May 26, meeting, stating her child was on a bus that was sideswiped by a semi during a field trip, but no one, including teachers, reported it.
Brittany Bailes, who had asked to be on the agenda after it was printed, told board members she had daughters in 4th and 6th grade at Meek Elementary School. Board President Joey Boteler advised her that she had five minutes to address the board.
“After we hear your concerns or whatever, there won’t be any action taken today,” Boteler noted. “If there is any action we need to take, we’ll do it at a later date and get back with you.”
Bailes advised the board that on May 11, Meek Elementary 4th, 5th and 6th graders took a field trip to Montgomery on two charter buses.
“My 4th grader and 6th grader were on bus one,“ Bailes related. “I was behind bus 1, and it was hit by a transfer truck. Had I not been in the caravan right behind the bus, I would not have been notified.
“No parents were notified,” Bailes continued. “On the (bus), the teacher actually told all of the students to put away their tablets just so parents would not be notified.
“That is a concern I have,” she continued. “Had I not been right behind the bus, I would not have known.”
Bailes and another parent took pictures of the truck that struck the bus, as well as damage that occurred to the charter bus, she related.
“Like I said, nobody contacted me,” she said. “There are still parents in the fourth grade and in the sixth grade that do not know their child was on a bus that was hit during a Meek Elementary School field trip.
“So, I am sharing my concerns, as far as communication, safety protocol, something,” Bailes concluded.
Winston County Schools Superintendent Greg Pendley responded that, without mentioning any names, he needed to meet with Bailes after the meeting so he could talk with her a “little more in-depth.”
“Absolutely,” Bailes responded.
After the meeting, Pendley stated, “As far as our kids, I think we do everything humanly possible to be protective of them. This is an incident where things were not communicated as well as they should have been.”
Pendley said he was not informed about the accident involving the bus until, “well after it happened.”
The semi-truck grazed the side view mirror of the charter bus carrying students, school officials determined. It was also noted the semi-truck was attempting to pass the charter bus when the incident occurred, officials said.
Pendley said he would find out more about the situation so he could know what action could be taken.
“Any time an allegation like that is made, we’re going to investigate it,” Pendley continued. “That is the first time I have heard that.”
In the process, Pendley asked Meek school administration why there was not notification of an accident involving a school bus on a field trip, he said.
“I said if the teachers were on (the bus), how could you not know,” Pendley pointed out. “I wasn’t on the bus, have no idea.
“Anytime we do something that we shouldn’t do, then yes, there would be disciplinary action. It would be a letter of either reprimand or expectations, one of the two,” Pendley pointed out.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.