School Bus Driver Involved in 6 Crashes, 8 Citations, Parents Furious, Demand Answers – UPDATE
UPDATE: 9/16/2016, 3:26 P.M. – After publishing our report on the driving record of HCSB employee, Mildred Rodgers, RNRF has learned Rodgers has been reassigned to a non-driving position and will no longer get behind the wheel of a Hernando County school bus.
HERNANDO – The Hernando County School Board is no stranger to controversy and with only one month into the new school year the district is already under fire for holding back honor roll students, and keeping special needs children from receiving proper services.
Last year the district’s transportation department was criticized for not addressing a serious German cockroach issue on several school buses. It wasn’t until RNRF broke the news that the district took measures to rid buses of the infestation and the situation was finally resolved. But a more serious issue has some parents concerned for the safety of their children who ride to and from Deltona Elementary aboard a County school bus – and they want answers.
Justina Mills contacted RNRF last week after receiving word that a first grade student did not return home aboard bus 32, driven by 61-year-old Mildred Rodgers. We immediately contacted HCSB Spokesperson Karen Jordan who told us that the student was held back by a counselor and that the parents were not notified. But Mills suggested that we look into Rodgers’ driving record and what we discovered shocked Mills, and the parents of other students who ride bus 32.
According to a report provided by the HCSB, Rodgers crashed her school bus 6 times (at fault) and received 8 citations since she was hired in 2001. In additions, Rodgers has faced disciplinary actions for being a no-show and on one occasion Rodgers was caught smoking on a school bus. Rodgers was also arrested in January for Domestic Battery but that charge was later dropped.
We asked Jordan what the district has to say regarding parent’s concerns over Rodgers’ driving record and if she would be allowed to continue driving. In lieu of a reply, Jordan provided a link to view the transportation department’s disciplinary guidelines.
According to HCSB guidelines a driver is allowed up to 10 points (HCSB Points not DMV) before termination becomes an option. A Safe Driver Review Board is in charge of determining and assessing how many points a driver will receive when disciplinary action is required. Rodgers has received 18 reprimands in her 15-years with the HCSB, including a 10-day suspension in 2011 for repeatedly failing to show up for work.
We spoke to Daryl Kelly on Friday while waiting for Rodgers to drop off her two children at the intersection of Treehaven Drive and Newhope Road. Kelly was furious when I showed her Rodgers’ record and said “I think that is completely inexcusable! Someone with that kind of record should not be driving my children around.” She went on to say “We should be able to trust these people with our kids and I don’t.” Despite costing more gas money to drive her children to and from school, Kelly says her children will not be on Rodger’s school bus come Monday morning.
Gena Fernando agrees with Kelly and says she’s scared and can’t trust Rodgers. Fernando has no choice but to allow her child to ride the bus because she can’t drive. But if she can make other arrangements, says Fernando, she will remove her child from the bus.
We will continue to follow this story and provide updates as they develop.
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