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Parents to pay for children’s damage to school bus seats, or child could be suspended from bus

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools system dished out $40,000 Wednesday, solely for repairs to school bus seats; repairs to damage caused by students.

“Our budget for the year is $80,000 for seat repairs, and we’ll use every bit of it,” said Darrell Taylor, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools transportation director.

Taylor said every year, students use pens, keys and sometimes knives to tear or vandalize the seats.

“They rip the seats, they tear the seats, pull out the foam cushioning in the seats, throw it out the windows,” he said.

In one extreme case last year, two students completely removed the bottoms of seats and threw them out of the windows of a moving school bus.

“Luckily it didn’t hit a car coming either way, but we have both those on video,” Taylor said.

Now more than ever, school buses have been outfitted with cameras which capture virtually every angle. Those cameras will be used to identify students causing damage to the seats.

“With the cameras on the buses we can identify the students that are doing it, so we are sending a bill to the parents to reimburse us for the damage that the students have caused,” Taylor said.

One average, minor repairs will cost parents about $75 dollars.

“I hope they talk to their children and explain to them that you just don’t destroy others’ property,” Taylor said.

If parents don’t want to pay for the repairs, they’ll be paying for extra gas to bring their children to school, due to their children possibly facing suspension from the bus. However, Taylor said there are certain circumstances when parents have no means of transporting their children to school, “and if they’re suspended from the bus, they won’t be coming to school and so it’s a double-edged sword there.”

Taylor added that on certain occasions, damage to the seats may cause the school system to temporarily swap out buses.

“It slows things down, it’s an older bus, it may not have air conditioning on it,” he said.