Great Bend BOE proposes bus policy changes to improve student safety

GREAT BEND, Kansas – On Tuesday night, for the first time since reports of assaults on Great Bend school buses returning from swim meets last month, the school district addressed potential bus policy changes.

The meeting lasted around an hour and a half and just a few minutes were dedicated to addressing possible bus policy changes.

Those proposed changes include policies making sure sponsors ride in a seat that ensures they can monitor all students on board the bus.

They proposed a policy that ensures adequate supervision at the front, middle and back of the bus and another proposed policy change states that the supervisor must sit between boys and girls, separating them on co-ed trips.

There were no speakers or comment following the proposed changes but KSN wanted to clarify a few things.

After the meeting, KSN asked the superintendent for answers to questions like: ‘who will the supervisors be and how many?’

‘Will they be coaches or parents?’

‘Will they receive special training?’

And, ‘could they be paid volunteers?’

Superintendent Reed told KSN the polices are “self-explanatory” and that he had “no comment.”

“The sponsor is responsible for adequate supervision on the bus,” said a USD 428 staff member. “The sponsor shall sit in the front middle and back of the bus to enable them to monitor all students.”

One Great Bend resident says these policies are long overdue.

“You know the scars that have been placed on these children are not being tended to and their wellbeing and their future is being mocked by letting the kids that have been accused of these actions go ahead and proceed with their lives as normal when the victims cannot do the same,” said Brandon Witthuhn, a Great Bend resident.

Following the meeting, the mother of one of the victims told KSN she was frustrated that so much time was dedicated to plans for the football team, specifically introducing their new coach, and not focused on the incident and the investigation.

We’ll continue to update you as we get answers to our questions.

KSN also checked in with the Ellsworth County attorney today and he says he has not filed charges yet and doesn’t know if or when they could be filed.

The Barton County Sheriff’s Department says they are still continuing their investigation into the second assault report.

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