Monday, June 30, 2008

Incompetency And Negligence

How do people like those mentioned in this article get jobs and, more to the point, keep those jobs? Read the following jaw-dropping article from the Washington Post (all emphases mine):
11-Year-Old Is Left Unattended on School Bus

By Sopan Joshi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 27, 2008; B03

An 11-year-old boy stayed unattended on a bus operated by D.C. public schools for about two hours Wednesday [June 25] after the driver and an attendant, who delivered other children to school, failed to notice him.

The boy, who apparently had fallen asleep, woke up in a bus parking lot on New York Avenue NE. He opened the bus door and was then driven to his school, the High Road School on Kansas Avenue NE, by another school bus driver.

Apparently, neither the first driver nor the attendant realized that he boy had not disembarked at the school, nor did they check the bus before parking it. The bus transported only four children, including the boy.

The driver apologized to the boy's mother.

David Gilmore, the school district's transportation administrator, said "appropriate disciplinary action" has been taken.

The boy's mother, Evelyn Sykes, was at the school for a meeting with teachers when her son was driven there a few minutes after 11 a.m. As she was driving the child home, Sykes said she heard him say he never wanted to go to school again because he was scared. She took him to Children's National Medical Center, where a physician told her that the child had a panic attack.

Gilmore said all drivers and attendants are required to walk to the back of the bus to check for children who have fallen asleep. "The driver and the attendant didn't do their walk in this instance," he said.

Three-fourths of the school bus fleet, he said, are newer models in which the driver has to walk to the back to press a button before leaving the vehicle.

"Unfortunately, this was one of the older buses," he said.

Gilmore said that the bus checked into the parking lot at 9 a.m. and that the boy was seen by staff at 10:40 a.m. He had been picked up about 8 a.m.

"He was sitting on the third seat. How could they miss him?" Sykes asked.

She registered a complaint with officers in the 5th Police District.
Could the bus driver and the attendant not count to four? Could they not notice a student on the third seat, an obvious position in the vehicle? After all, it's not as if the bus were transporting a large number of students hard to keep track of.

The article's information about newer buses equipped with a button to push to make sure that the driver checks the vehicle from front to back came as a surprise to me. I'm sure that my bus drivers didn't have any such button when I went to school. Ah, the wonders of today's technology, which makes sure that workers do their jobs!

The District of Columbia not only has problems with the dedication and competency of bus drivers working for the school system. Specifically, a few weeks back, a Metrorail train ran off the tracks. Nothing so unusual about that type of mishap, of course; derailments, serious and not so serious, occur with some frequency. Nevertheless, the rest of the story about that particular derailment is a bit unusual. The train operator managed to travel some 2700 feet without realizing that the train was off the tracks! Had it not been for a supervisor who happened to be riding the train that day, who knows how far the train operator could have gone in an unintentional quest of blazing a new trail?

Perhaps our society today is moving closer to the surreality of Idiocracy than we care to think about. In my view, instances of incompetency and negligence abound in the Twenty-first Century. I won't even get started on discussing politicians' contribution to foolishness.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 6/30/2008 05:00:00 AM