Special education bus drivers from the Harris County School District participated recently in bus-evacuation training at Moultrie Park in Hamilton, Georgia.
Mike Dover, the lead instructor, oversaw special education bus evacuation training on Thursday in which drivers and monitors had two minutes to evacuate 100 feet away from the bus. During training, extra drivers and monitors acted as students that needed help evacuating, and there was a 60 lb. weighted dummy that had to be carried by a monitor or driver from the bus.
Laurie Devitt, a special education bus driver who participated in the training, said it’s important for her to act like she normally does around the students during an emergency so they would not realize something is wrong.
Cheryl Johnson, director of transportation for the Harris County School District, explained the needs of the students who ride on special education buses vary. She said some students are nonverbal and some may try to run while others are in wheelchairs and must be carried out or dragged out on a blanket during an emergency.
There are 75 students who use special education buses in Harris County, and there are 10 drivers and 12 monitors. There can be up to nine special education students on a bus with one driver and up to two monitors per special education bus.
According to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, for the 2017-2018 school year there are 246,377 students with disabilities in Georgia’s public K-12 schools.
The training is part of a larger effort to train all bus drivers in the Harris County School District. Twice a year there is bus evacuation training, and drivers also participate in skills courses throughout the year.