LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — “I’m pretty ticked off,” said Dave Aronson, whose seventh-grade child at Stiles Middle School took video of a charter bus driver using his phone while driving.
“Not at the school system, but at the bus company and the bus driver for allowing this to happen,” said Aronson.
The video shows the driver on his phone while driving on Interstate 35 with a bus full of students heading to Schlitterbahn for an end of year school field trip on Saturday, May 19.
“You send them for a fun trip and you want them to go there safely and come back safely and not crash on I-35,” said Aronson.
In a statement, the Leander Independent School District says the video showing the driver handling his phone was “concerning.”
The district says it sometimes contracts out their road trips to charter companies due to a lack of school buses. For this trip, LISD says it hired 10 charter buses to transport around 550 students from both Henry and Stiles Middle Schools.
The district says it is investigating and working with Roadrunner Charters to address the matter.
“We need the bus drivers to protect these hundreds of kids to be safe,” said Aronson.
The company behind this incident is TBI Charters, a subcontractor of Roadrunner Charters. The charter bus driver has not been fired, but TBI Charters says if it happens again he will be dismissed.
The company says the driver was reconnecting his phone back to his electronic log that is required by law and was not “texting or listening to music.” TBI says the “driver should have pulled over to the side of I-35.”
They say they have notified the drivers that “if it happens again, to not attempt to reconnect while the bus is in motion.”
However, parents say this should have never happened in the first place.
“The driver needs to the follow the laws especially when they are entrusted with our kids’ lives,” Aronson said.
KXAN pulled driver and vehicle inspection reports for both charters from the federal motor carrier safety administration. Neither contains any critical violations.