Spike in School Bus Vandalism Sparks Concern

APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. - Jan. 26, 2023 - PRLog -- An increase in school bus vandalism is having an impact on the Apache Junction Unified School District fleet. Several buses – many newer models – are being marred with graffiti and several seats have been sliced.

The vandalism was discovered by fleet personnel earlier this week. After every run, by law (R17-9-104(D)(30), the drivers must "walk" their bus looking for damage, sleeping children, left behind items, etc. While the incident is being investigated, District administration is appealing to families to help stop the problem before it gets worse.

"This is disturbing on many levels and we are asking for parents and guardians to help us by having frank discussions with their children about the importance of respecting school property," said AJUSD Superintendent Heather Wallace. "We feel that with support from our families we can use this issue as an opportunity to teach the importance of not only respecting each other, but respecting the tools that make a good education possible."

While students, and even families, may feel taking the bus to school is a "free ride" – the privilege can be withdrawn when the bus rider engages in bad behavior. In the event of vandalism, students receive a seven to 10 day bus suspension and restitution for repairs which must be paid prior to the student returning on the bus.

The damage is estimated to be $82 to $150 per seat.

The vandalism is currently being reviewed. Protocol is the driver makes a note of damage and sends pictures of damage to transportation staff. This includes reviewing videos to find the suspect. A damage report is submitted to the Fleet Supervisor for repair order, who will then calculate cost. Parents/Guardians are notified approximately in two days if not sooner along with the student who will deliver notice of suspension, pictures and invoice. Some parents/guardians will request information to be sent via postmaster.

If the damage is found during morning run where the student is searched at school and if a weapon is found on their person the school handles the suspension but restitution is still enforced and student(s) can not return on bus until fully paid unless arrangements have been made. If damage is found during the evening ride most of the time transportation enforces the suspensions.

"Our Transportation Department takes pride in maintaining our fleet, providing a clean and healthy bus environment and keeping our students safe while in transit to and from school," said Wallace. "We simply ask that students extend that same respect to the bus and staff during their journey with us."

Sally Marks
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Location:Apache Junction - Arizona - United States
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