New job within Hamilton County schools will help handle bus driver complaints

The Hamilton County Department of Education did not bring up the matter in Thursday night's regularly scheduled meeting, but superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson says improvements since the crash, are always on their minds. (Image: WTVC)

The Hamilton County Board of Education is creating a position to help prevent another tragic bus crash in the county.

Earlier this week, the National Transportation Safety Board said the school system is partially to blame for the deadly Woodmore bus crash that killed six elementary school kids. The NTSB says the school system did not act on complaints against school bus driver Johnthony Walker.

The Hamilton County Department of Education did not bring up the matter in Thursday night's regularly scheduled meeting, but superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson says improvements since the crash, are always on their minds.

"Any time you have a tragedy of that magnitude, you always look at how you're refining what you do," Johnson told NewsChannel 9. "We never want anything like that to happen again."

As a result, the school system created a position to help handle complaints and reinforce policies.

"We've identified an opportunity to create a compliance role that will support with training and compliance, to ensure that we are doing our very best to keep our children safe," Johnson said.

More details about the job are pending while the board waits to receive approval on next year's budget. Dr Johnson says once that happens, the school system will aggressively search for qualified candidates.

This is also the board's first meeting since two board members spoke out against a policy calling for more diversity in schools.

The school board agreed to consider contracting with an outside agency, the Howard Group, at the recommendation of the county's Chief Equity Officer, Marsha Drake.

The agency would to look at equity problems in the county and offer recommendations to fix them. Those recommendations would go to the county's Equity Task Force, then be voted on by the board.

Dr Johnson says the board will have to find funding for the agency and it wouldn't come from the school system's budget.

All board members were in favor of the decision except for Rhonda Thurman, one of the two members who spoke out against the recent diversity plan.

The other member, Joe Smith, called the idea of the agency "a no-brainer" adding the county "had nothing to lose."

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