Daily Egyptian

Headstart officials look for replacements after firing, suspension

By Gus Bode

May take two weeks to fill positions of monitor, driver

SIUC Headstart has found a replacement for a bus driver who left two children on a bus for nearly 40 minutes on Monday.

Parents of the seven children who ride the Murphysboro bus met on Thursday evening to discuss the repercussions following the incident. A bus monitor, who was also overseeing the children on the vehicle, was fired on Tuesday. Headstart officials are still investigating the cause of the incident.

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The two children left on the Headstart bus Monday after the run was completed prompted the meeting. The children were left on the bus for 30 to 40 minutes after both the bus monitor and driver left the vehicle for the day. The terminations have left the bus without a monitor or driver. As a result, parents have had to drive their children to the Headstart center in Carbondale.

Vice Chancellor for Diversity Seymour Bryson oversees the Headstart program. He said some parents are able to bring their kids to the Carbondale location, while others have had difficulty finding transportation.

Although the driver had only been suspended because of union issues, it was decided that she would not be allowed to work as a Headstart driver. He said the organization has found an unnamed replacement for the driver.

However, this person must complete several procedures, such as training and drug tests before beginning the job. Bryson said they hope to have a new driver in the position within the next two weeks.

Bryson said there were mixed reactions from the 20 to 30 people present. Some believed the decision was necessary, while others said they viewed the driver as a “good quality employee who has provided quality service to the children.”

However, he said the decision to remove her from the position was final.

Bryson said he believes that everyone involved has learned a lesson from the experience and wants to move on.

“This is an unfortunate situation,” Bryson said. “But I think we all agree that now is the time to close the door on it.”

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