Floyd County School Superintendent Terry Arbogast doesn’t like to talk to us but he at least responded to The Roanoke Times when they followed up today on our investigation into speeding and running of stop signs by some Floyd County school bus drivers.
Arbogast claims he has not received any direct complaints about county school bus drivers. Some Floyd County parents say he’s not telling the truth, adding they have complained often in the past but nothing was done.
Clearly a case of "he said, they said," but Arbogast’s comments to The Times about our video that shows three buses running the stop sign at Barberry Road and East Main Street raises questions about his eyesight or his willingness to admit the truth:
After seeing the video, Arbogast said, "We talked directly with individuals who might have been part of that."
He said he recognized that at least one driver was "more pausing instead of stopping," but he said he didn’t see it as a widespread problem.
He pointed to an "extraordinary" driving record of Floyd’s bus drivers, who haul about 1,900 students on 46 buses each day.
"I think there’s just sometimes that we need to be reminded," he said.
"I don’t expect to hear about it again."
Say what? At least one driver "more pausing instead of stopping?" The video clearly shows two buses driving through the intersection without stopping and one other bus slowing but not coming to a complete stop.
Had Arbogast or anyone from his office asked, I could have provided a full-resolution copy of the video that shows the bus numbers of the drivers who ran the stop signs but I’ve heard nothing from anyone connected with the school system. That tells me that he is more interested in glossing over the situation up than in getting to the truth of which drivers might be putting school children at risk with reckless driving habits.
Arbogast’s comments to the Times leaves three options:
- The Times misquoted him;
- He needs a vision test;
- Or he’s deliberately refusing to admit the truth.
Interestingly, his comments to The Times provide more information than he gave to the county board of trustees last week when Indian Valley Supervisor Fred Gerald asked what had been done about reports of dangerous driving by school bus drivers.
Arbogast clearly got angry when the question was raised. He blustered a lot but said little. Some supervisors said later they were shocked by the tone of Arbogast’s response.
"He clearly was flustered," Courthouse Supervisor Jerry Boothe said.
Arbogast didn’t give the board any details, choosing to hide behind a law that protects employee privacy. However, that law does not prevent him from telling the board and the public statistics on what actions, if any, have been taken against bus drivers who break the law. He could provide stats on the number of drivers, if any, who have been disciplined, suspended or fired. Perhaps a formal request under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) can open some of the closed doors at the Floyd County School system.
He’s wrong to think he won’t hear about this again. He failed to mention that the letter to drivers telling them to obey speed limits and stop signs went out more than a week before I videotaped the drivers still running stop signs at Barberry and Eastd Main. I’m still getting reports of drivers breaking the law and I’m not the only one out there with a video camera.
Some drivers obviously didn’t take school bus boss Mike Carr’s warnings seriously. Why should they? Three’s no record showing that anything has been done in the past. Instead of trying to smooth the situation over with bureaucratic doublespeak, the administration of Floyd County’s schools needs to prove to the public that they really do care about the safety of the children they transport. From what I’ve seen to date, I’m inclined to believe they really don’t give a damn. A school administrator or school board chairman with nothing to hide would get in my face and prove I was wrong. Sadly, it appears that only a tragedy will bring about real action and change.