Considering the level of overreaction school administrators employ in punishing students who draw, mention, or even think about a firearm, one might think staff members would be encouraged to identify and neutralize armed students.
For Parma, Ohio substitute school bus driver Dennis Kaliszewski, however, such diligence only earned him a pink slip.
The driver, who was transporting kids by himself for just the second time, recognized that a number of passengers began clamoring behind him. Kaliszewski said “it seemed as though the entire bus of students started to yell that a young boy had a knife in his possession.”
Trusting his instinct, he said he pulled the bus over and confiscated the student’s weapon, noting that he “defused the situation and eliminated any danger.”
Instead of celebrating his quick resolution of the issue, school administrators called Kaliszewski in for a meeting, informing him he was in violation of school policy. Furthermore, he said he was never given a chance to explain his side of the story.
Apparently, instead of addressing a potential problem, the school demands that bus drivers lie to students by telling them there is a mechanical problem with the bus. Then, he or she must surreptitiously contact authorities and keep the passengers hostage with a possible threat on board.
Kaliszewski said he would “look like an idiot if I called police and it turned out to be a rubber knife,” explaining that he lost his job for “using common sense.”
Upon returning to his headquarters that day, the driver included this incident in a report and letter to his supervisor.
“I reported to both my manager and higher-ups that I had things that needed to be addressed,” he explained, adding he was “not trained in proper procedure once an incident has been resolved, in regards to what to say and what not to say.”
Kaliszewski said he feels he was fired in part because parents complained about the incident. Of course, these parents were likely upset that their children were exposed to the threat of a knife, not the quick action of a diligent bus driver.
This incident illustrates a common theme in today’s culture, especially within the public school system. Zero tolerance rules allow for no critical thinking on the part of administrators. They are bound by an ironclad set of procedures that, in this case and countless others, actually punishes the very staff members who should be honored as pillars of the institution.
–B. Christopher Agee
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Photo Credit: nikki.jane (Creative Commons)