School bus safety notice angers some Hadley parents

Notice comes following death of girl who became stuck in bus door

HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – A safety notice is creating controversy. On Tuesday, 300 Hadley Elementary School students brought home a newsletter. In it, a safety warning from interim principal Joan Wickman, asking parents to remove any key chains or hanging parts from their child’s backpack.

The warning was sent because of the death of a 9 year-old Plainfield girl in late October. As she was exiting the bus, her backpack caught in the doors. She was dragged several feet before being run over. Part of the notice reads: “We want to learn from that recent tragedy and ensure that it never happens again to any other student.”

The notice frustrated some parents like Lauren Triggs, who believe’s it’s the bus driver’s responsibility to make sure children exit safely. “They do ask us from time to time to bring certain items like snow pants and boots,” says Triggs. “If that doesn’t fit in my child’s bag, and she were to get stuck because it’s in another bag, is that going to be her responsibility for getting struck by a bus by being stuck?” Triggs says that she has spoken with nearly a dozen parents who are also upset about the contents of this notification.

22News spoke with Principal Wickman over the phone who says, when it comes to student safety, it’s important that even the parents get involved. Principal Wickan didn’t send a safety notice to bus drivers, though says they’re also responsible. She’s had conversations with the bus coordinator, who she hopes will pass on the message.

“I mean, that’s kind of astonishing,” says Triggs. “The bus drivers, first and foremost should be aware of any issues. They should be the ones held accountable for children getting on and off the bus.”

So far, the school has never had a safety issue on a bus because of these hanging items.