URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Thomas Paine Elementary and the Urbana School District are investigating an incident between kids and First Student bus employees on Wednesday.
Parent Adam Schnizlein said his daughter told him a First Student bus monitor yelled at her and several other Thomas Paine students on the bus as they waited to leave.
“I was told by my daughter that the bus monitor had used profanities and was cursing at the children,” Schnizlein said. “At some point, [she] had brought up something about how he likes to stab people I believe, or something.”
Schnizlein said it got so bad that his child and other students decided to leave the bus and a second was called to take them home. He said she usually gets home around 3:45 p.m. but on Wednesday, she didn’t arrive until 5 p.m.
“She was obviously distraught by the whole situation,” Schnizlein. “She came home. She had obviously been crying for a while. She looked flushed and hot.”
Schnizlein also said his daughter rode the First Student bus on Thursday with the same monitor from Wednesday. However, a statement from Thomas Paine Elementary School Principal Andrea Jackson was given to parents:
On Wednesday, September 13, 2023, some students on bus 27 deboarded the bus after having sat for a period of time on the bus immediately following dismissal. After the students deboarded, they waited in the building while staff worked to contact parents and secure alternative transportation home. Thomas Paine building administrators contacted First Student, and another bus returned to take students home. Thomas Paine staff members began calling families and alerting them to the delay in arrival.
The district administration has been notified. Our objective is to keep students safe while investigating the events that led to the students exiting the bus. The substitute driver and the bus monitor are employees of First Student and not Urbana District. The substitute driver and bus monitor have been removed from the bus while a full investigation is completed.
Student safety is always our utmost concern and priority. We appreciate your patience and understanding while we work with First Student to investigate this personnel matter.Andrea Jackson, Thomas Paine Elementary School Principal
WCIA was also given a statement from Urbana School District spokesperson Katherine Tellez. It reads:
We are aware of an incident that occurred on a bus during the afternoon dismissal at Thomas Paine Elementary on sept. 13, 2023. The bus driver and monitor are employees of First Student and not Urbana School District. The school district is collaborating with First Student in the investigation of the incident, but because it is a personnel matter involving students, we cannot comment further. Please be aware that the adults in question will not be present on any school district buses until this matter can be fully investigated and addressed as is appropriate.Katherine Tellez, Director of Communications and Marketing
Despite feeling scared, Schnizlein said his daughter will continue to ride the bus. But has one message for the school district.
“We have to do better, please do better,” Schnizlein said. “These are our children you’re bussing around. This is not you picking up the garbage. This is not something that should slip through the cracks. It’s not. These are our children.”
We reached out to First Student for comment and have not heard back.