St. James suspends bus driver

Published 11:45 pm Friday, May 16, 2014

By Stephen Hemelt

LUTCHER — The speed of social media put the breaks on one local bus driver that apparently had a heavy foot.

At the conclusion of this week’s St. James Parish School Board meeting, District 1 Board Member Diana Cantillo remarked word spreads fast on the Internet, especially complaints concerning the school district. She said many in St. James have been commenting on school bus drivers traveling too fast, something she has seen firsthand on social media sites.

Her remarks came at the conclusion of Tuesday’s school board meeting and were followed in near unison by the other six members of the school board.

Each asked Superintendent Dr. Alonzo Luce to look into the matter, with District 4 Board Member George Nassar Jr. suggesting the district pull First Student information to verify tracking and speeding information for the district’s drivers.

Luce said he was made aware of the speeding complaints this week, was able to identify the driver in question and conclude the driver was speeding by going between 26 and 34 mph in a 15-mph zone.

Luce said the driver was suspended for three days.

In addressing a separate transportation concern, Luce said when bus drivers are unable to complete their daily routes, operating bus drivers that day will continue with their normal routes and double back to pick up students from school and drop them off at home when the initial routes are complete.

Luce said this would eliminate the “doubling of routes,” which has been a recent complaint.

School officials said if students were forced to arrive home later than normal due to absent bus drivers, parents would be notified ahead of time of the delay.

In other school board business:

• The St. James School Board entered into an agreement with CHEZ-ELMA Adult Day Health Care Center to provide breakfast and lunch to the facility at the at-cost price, tentatively set $4.25 a meal.

Melissa Chriss of CHEZ-ELMA said the senior care center has locations in Houma and Vacherie and is looking to service between 15 and 20 seniors at its St. James facility.

She said clients need nutritional meals, and the school district is already cooking and capable of providing those meals.

Chriss said the adult day care center is paid through Medicare funding.

• The St. James School Board declared a critical shortage in the area of Secondary Dual Enrollment Science in order to help the district fill a teaching vacancy.