By TOMI L. WILEYSpecial to The Wilson Post
MT. JULIET -- Wilson County Schools officials are investigating a reported occurrence Monday afternoon in which Mt. Juliet Middle School students were kept on a school bus, windows up in 87 degree weather, as an act of “discipline.”
Dorinda Wolentarski, the mother of a MJMS student who was on that bus in the Hickory Hills subdivision Monday, said her daughter told her about two male students who said a profanity. The bus driver, only known to Wolentarski as “Miss Rachel,” reportedly stopped the bus and would not start it again or open the bus windows until both of the boys came forward and confessed. One did, but when the other failed to, Miss Rachel reportedly kept the children in the stifling bus, against their protests of “child abuse.”
“My daughter was 15 minutes late getting home, and when she told me what happened I was appalled,” Wolentarski said Tuesday. “They practically suffocated – you can’t even legally do that to a dog, keep them in a bus with rising temperatures like that. It’s unconscionable what she was doing to those children.”
Wolentarski said she “finally” reached someone at the Wilson County Schools transportation office, a woman who she said assists Supervisor of Transportation Steve Spencer, on Tuesday morning. She said the woman apologized for the incident and said officials were “looking into it.” Wolentarski said the woman admitted that Miss Rachel (whose full name Spencer declined to report) has “a hard route and trouble controlling the children.”
“I’ve been told, too, that she tells the children to shut up all the time, and while I wouldn’t have her job you can’t expect her to treat children like that.”
Spencer said Tuesday afternoon that his assistant whom Wolentarski spoke with left mid-morning and wouldn’t be back, so he couldn’t talk to her about. He said he had spoken with MJMS Principal Tim Bell, who thought the incident had happened at the school, and who told this newspaper that he “would only deal with the students if they were referred to the office by the driver.”
Spencer said his office “will look into” the incident, and that he planned on speaking with Miss Rachel Tuesday afternoon.
“We don’t roll windows up and bake the kids as punishment,” Spencer said. “That’s not an acceptable punishment if it happened. It’s not something we’re going to allow to happen, and there will be repercussions.”
The transportation supervisor added that the bus driver has been employed with the school system since “last school year,” and that the only other issue he’d had with her is that “she has a tight turn around, and she hit a mailbox.”
Wilson County Director of Schools Mike Davis did not return requests for comment by press time Tuesday.
Editor’s Note: Tomi L. Wiley is the editor of The Chronicle of Mt. Juliet. She may be contacted at Editor@thechronicleofmtjuliet.com.