School bus security questioned in Elizabeth City

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) – “This kid did not steal, he was just having fun like any other little child,” said Calvin Moore, who lives across the street from J.C. Sawyer Elementary School in Elizabeth City.

Moore is mad about the way some people are talking about a good friend’s grandson. The child, who has special needs, somehow managed to get behind the wheel of a bus parked at the school and drove it about 50 yards off school property Tuesday.

“He wasn’t aware of what he was doing or how much troubled he was in,” Moore explained.

The school system did seek disciplinary action, but wouldn’t elaborate other than to say the student will not be suspended. Now, Moore wants answers from the school about how it was able to happened. Could a bus driver have left the keys where they don’t belong? Was there a breakdown in bus protocol?

“We take it pretty serious, this is an eye opening experience for us as well,” said Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools Superintendent Linwood Williams.

Williams said there there was no breach in bus or key protocol because one doesn’t exist. He said so far, an unwritten practice among bus drivers has been enough. There’s absolutely nothing on paper.

10 On Your Side asked Williams if that unwritten practice was employed properly Tuesday afternoon. He said, “yes.” WAVY.com asked if someone was still able to gain access to the bus, while the unwritten practice was being employed properly. Williams said, “yes.”

Williams declined to tell WAVY.com exactly what the unwritten practice is for bus keys, because he thought that could compromise the security of more buses.

In a statement, the school system said the following:

Overnight parking for school buses are based on routes. There may be buses parked on school property as well as at residences depending on time and distance from particular routes.

We do not have a policy regarding bus keys, but we have practices that are followed. We are not able to share our practice for key access as that would jeopardize safety and security for our district.

Williams plans to bring up the lack of written rules with the school board, especially since 10 On Your Side started asking questions.

“With the coverage we’re getting, we’re going to do it pretty soon,” he said. “It’s going to take center stage. The conversation is going to take place right away.”

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