Two recent incidents show that even video cameras can't prevent bad behavior on school buses. And it's not always the kids who are behaving badly.
In Atkinson, the parents of an 11-year-old boy are demanding answers after they say their son was on the receiving end of a nasty tongue-lashing by the driver of a Timberlane Regional School District bus.
According to the family, the driver yelled at the boy for not holding his backpack in his lap as he's supposed to do. When the boy responded by saying "something fresh," in the words of his parents, the driver apparently lost it.
"The bus driver immediately stopped and screamed at him, close enough where he got spit on his face," said the boy's father, Eric Roux. "He called him stupid idiot for the next 10 stops."
Yes, the couple's son needs to learn not to sass grown-ups. But the driver was the adult in this situation and should have learned long ago to control his temper.
His flare-up was bad enough that after consulting with Timberlane officials, the company that operates the buses, First Student, pulled the driver off the route.
"This driver is operating charter service only. It's field trips, sporting events, things of that nature," company spokesman Timothy Stokes said, adding the driver had no other complaints on his record after 12 years driving Timberlane kids.
The boy's parents aren't satisfied. They want to see the video recorded by the on-board camera.
Timberlane officials, whose default position is not to release potentially embarrassing information, have refused to let the parents see the video, citing student privacy concerns.
If parents are expected to waive their kids' privacy rights and allow them to be videotaped every time they set foot on a school bus, the parents ought to have the right to see the results.
Especially when their kid is subjected to a verbal assault by an adult whose punishment may or may not have been harsh enough.
"Every parent is amazed that we don't have the right to see the video," Eric Roux said. "It's our son and we pay taxes for that bus. It's about a right to know stuff that happens to your kid on a bus or anywhere on school property."
The second case of bad bus behavior happened Tuesday in Lawrence, but this time all the adults reacted properly.
Police said the bus was en route to Lawrence High when the driver was hit in the shoulder by a plastic pellet fired from inside the bus. This driver kept his cool and called his dispatcher, who informed school officials and police, who were waiting when the bus arrived at the school.
Police searched the backpacks of the students on the bus and turned up two BB guns.
Two boys, 15 and 16, now face criminal charges in juvenile court.
Police said one of the boys admitted firing the pellet but said he was aiming at the floor of the bus so the driver must have been hit by the ricochet.
There's a reason there are cameras on school buses: The long history of both kids and drivers acting badly.
It's just amazing that the bad behavior continues even with the camera rolling. There's still a lot of growing up to do on our school buses.