According to COTA data, just 0.2% of students (36/17,400) were a problem on buses, but that was enough for Columbus Schools Superintendent Gene Harris to suspend all students’ COTA transportation option. The Dispatch discusses how the Columbus School Board has ordered her to stand down. Students can get back to normal on Monday. Thank goodness for checks and balances.
COTA saw few unruly Columbus students
Bus service can’t explain Harris’ pulling of passes
Thursday, August 5, 2010 02:55 AM
By Jennifer Smith Richards
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Columbus school Superintendent Gene Harris feared that teenagers’ behavior on COTA buses was getting out of control, so she yanked their riding privileges.
But since last year, only 36 of the 17,400 students with district-purchased bus passes behaved so badly that COTA wanted their passes taken from them.
And though Columbus teenagers took nearly 2 million rides last school year, transit officers were called to investigate misbehavior and crimes fewer than 30 times, according to Central Ohio Transit Authority records. Several riders were involved in fights, a few had toted guns on board and one urinated on a bus shelter.
…Even though the district had paid $520,000 for students to use the passes until October, it had to “signal to students that their behavior is not acceptable,” Harris said on Tuesday before the school board ordered her to reinstate them immediately.
Students will be able to use them again starting Monday.
The low numbers of reported disciplinary cases left some puzzling over Harris’ logic in yanking the unlimited-ride passes, which have been offered to charter-, private- and public-school students who live within school-district boundaries for the past five years. Harris has said she did not review COTA’s discipline data before she made her decision.
Misbehavior by students can’t be tolerated, said Stephanie Groce, vice president of the school board.
“That being said, these data suggest that an overwhelming majority of our students are behaving appropriately, making the abrupt cancellation of passes more perplexing,” she said.
COTA officials reiterated yesterday that problems with student behavior were isolated and that COTA did not ask Harris to halt students’ bus privileges.