A parent's complaint and petition has prompted the Beaufort County Board of Education to form a committee to decide whether cameras should be installed on school buses.
Christina Chandler, who said her children have been bullied during bus rides home from Beaufort Elementary School this year, told the school board Tuesday she had gathered more than 500 signatures in support of putting cameras on the buses. Her three children continue to ride the bus, despite problems she said started the first week of school.
After Chandler's remarks, school board chairman Fred Washington Jr. appointed four board members to a committee to research options for bus safety: Michael Rivers, who will be chairman; Julie Bell; Bill Evans; and Herbert Burnes.
The committee has 60 days to report its findings. Washington said he expected it to study all options -- including paid or volunteer monitors -- to ensure bus riders are safe.
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Cameras would cost more than $230,000, depending on how many are installed, according to one estimate by the district staff, and paid monitors would cost about $2.8 million.
Washington said Wednesday he also wants to ensure rules to prevent bullying are enforced. "Let's make sure what we have in place is working," he said. "If there are holes, we need to deal with those holes."
Chandler said Wednesday she wasn't satisfied by the formation of a committee and a 60-day deadline. "That's two months of children having to continue to go through this," she said. "That's two months to come up with a plan, but not even put it in action."
Washington said the timeline reflects other issues confronting the board, such as the search for a new superintendent and the November election.
"This is not something that we should rush into because we want to make sure we have long-term solutions," Washington said.
Chandler said she wished more of the parents who signed her petition had spoken at the board meeting. Aside from former district employee Mark Sanz, no one else spoke to the board about bus safety concerns.
The mother of three plans to continue gathering signatures and support for her cause. She started a Facebook page, "Beaufort County Bus Cameras," and said she will take her complaint to the S.C. Board of Education if necessary.
"I'm fighting the system at this point," she said. "It's just frustrating."