Angry parents briefly interrupted the Fort Worth School Board’s September meeting on Tuesday after a parent tried to play an audio recording and had his microphone cut off.
The speaker was one of many parents to speak out against the district’s transportation department after several incidents of school bus drivers leaving students at the wrong stops, sometimes in neighborhoods far from their homes.
The audio recording was of children crying, but the context was unclear as the audio was quickly cut out.
Joe Palmer, a regular District critic, used his public comment to lambast the District for its handling of the comments.
“What I saw you do tonight … is reprehensible,” he said. “We saw staff unilaterally cutting off a microphone. Her child was dropped off in the wrong place… and her microphone was cut off. It’s a public meeting. »
Incident follows district apology
Fort Worth School District transportation staff issued an apology to parents last week after video captured a driver forcing children off the bus at the wrong stop, KTVT-TV reported.
Daggett Elementary students on Sept. 16 were dropped off nearly half a mile from their home on the south side of town, across busy Hemphill Street, the station reported.
One of the parents, Jeff Williams, told the Star-Telegram in a social media post that his 8- and 9-year-old daughters were crying on the side of the road in the wrong neighborhood after being forced off the bus by a driver.
He also spoke at the meeting and was seen following Superintendent Angélica Ramsey to another room after the meeting was briefly suspended.
During his comments, the council chamber lights were turned off, in an apparent error.
Following outcry from parents in the audience, council chairman Tobi Jackson warned the public against speaking out of turn, adding that they could be fired for speaking again, citing the policy of the advice.
“While we encourage public participation in our board meetings, it is very important that we remain civil in our words and demeanor,” Jackson said in a statement later. “Our students are watching and we have an example to set.
“The bottom line is that district procedure does not allow pre-recorded material to be played during public commentary. It was important that the speaking parent understand this procedure, while addressing their concerns. Luckily, after announcing a brief suspension, we were able to resolve the issue. »
The school district previously told KTVT-TV it was investigating what happened and that the bus driver was a substitute who no longer drove the route. Parents told the station that school administrators were aware of repeated problems with bus drivers forcing children off buses at the wrong stops and that on September 19, a vice principal took the bus with the students to make sure they got off the bus at the right stops.
Another parent saw the children dropped off in the initial incident and took them home, the Star-Telegram previously reported.
The parents asked the district to remove the transportation officials, who they say gave unanswered excuses about how the incidents happened.
Ramsey, who was absent from the rest of the public comments during her meeting with the parents, said she hoped to connect with the parents as the district’s new leader.
The September meeting was his first as district head.
This story was originally published September 27, 2022 8:04 p.m.