New Hartford parents concerned about adult passenger on bus - WFSB 3 Connecticut

New Hartford parents concerned about adult passenger on bus

Parents in New Hartford were upset Friday over what they're calling an inappropriate incident on their children's school bus.

The controversy involves what some said was an "unauthorized adult" being given permission to ride on a bus full of children.

Luckily, students made it home safely but in the months after the Newtown tragedy, parents were concerned.

According to officials, last week a Dattco supervisor gave a bus driver permission to allow another adult to ride along on her afternoon run.

That man, who was allowed on a bus with elementary school students, had not been cleared by strict state and Dattco background checks.

"Certainly, I was appalled by the breach of safety," said New Hartford Superintendent of Schools Dr. Philip O'Reilly.

O'Reilly told Eyewitness News that he informed parents once he learned about the incident and checked the policy of Dattco.

"They violated their own policy at both the driver and manager levels," he said.

Dattco Chief Operating Officer Cliff Gibson acknowledged his staff's error in judgment and stated it's a clear violation of the company's policy.

"We're very sorry and we understand the concerns parents have for that," he said.

Gibson added that the "bus driver was counseled as appropriate," however, the driver was not fired.

The manager was also talked to by Gibson and officials re-iterated the company's policy to all its staffers.

The Department of Motor Vehicles told Eyewitness News there are no state laws regarding who can ride on a school bus and policies are up to districts and the bus companies they work with.

The school board will meet at Ann Antolini School Tuesday night and Gibson will be on hand to answer questions from the superintendent and possibly parents about how and why this happened.

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