When institutions don't protect our kids

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Arlene Jones

Raymond Ivy is a single dad raising his two little girls, ages 6 and 5. When it came time for his youngest to go to school, he made a simple request to the school district in his hometown of Charleston, Mo. He asked that his kindergartner be allowed to ride home on the bus with her 6-year-old sister. The school district complied and the forms were signed.

There was a simple "catch" to Ivy's request: The kindergartner got out at 2:40 p.m. while the older sister didn't get out until 3 p.m. The solution was easy. The school would allow the kindergartner to stay in the office until 3 o'clock, and then she could join her sister and the other kids on Bus 7.

At some point between the start of the school year and 2/1/2012, someone changed the agreed-upon routine. Instead of sending the little girl to the office, the school began putting the kindergartner on Bus 7 with the driver. For 20 or more minutes each day, the little girl and the driver, whom we will call Mr. J, were on the bus - alone together.

Raymond Ivy learned of the change to the routine when his kindergartner came home on Feb. 1. Mr. J had asked the kindergartner if he could pick her up by her backpack. The little girl shook her head "No," but the driver picked her up anyway. While several inches off the ground, the strap to the backpack broke. Mr. J then put her in a front seat and standing behind her he used a knife to cut off the strap.

Now I have driven a school bus, and ... I have been alone with a child. But at no point would I ever lift one up or even touch them and never ever would I come near them with a knife. Both for my reputation (not to mention the litany of situations where school bus drivers can be charged with a crime) as well as for the safety of the child (imagine if she had moved and the knife nicked her neck or jugular vein and not the strap).

Ivy subsequently learned that Mr. J had been giving his little girl gifts. Immediately his protective instincts went off and so did mine. Why was the school placing his daughter on the bus with the driver (most drivers have a pick-up time and children aren't allowed on the bus until that time), and even more important, why had the driver been giving his daughter gifts? Anyone who thinks the worst knows that a predator grooms his victim.

Ivy immediately contacted the school, the police, and Missouri's DCFS. His initial concerns were as follows:

1) Mr. J picking the 5-year-old up in the air by her backpack.

2) Mr. J pulling out a knife and cutting a strap that had broken because he had picked her up by her backpack.

3) Giving his 5-year-old daughter gifts at different times.

4) The 5-year-old told Ivy she was afraid of the bus driver. Why?

5) He doesn't know if the driver may have done anything else to his 5-year-old daughter. By the way, Mr. J admits to picking up the child and to using the knife but has never been "put under a microscope as to why." Ivy is also upset because neither the police, DCFS, nor the school seem to be interested in truly getting to the bottom of the situation. His additional allegations include:

6) The police dept. wouldn't let him file a police report against the bus driver or the school.

7) DCFS wouldn't investigate, nor would they take his complaint.

8) Both daughters were questioned by police and school officials without his permission and without him being present.

Ivy also relays that on a school field trip, while his older daughter was bent over petting the ducks, Mr. J stood behind her less than a foot away.

The allegations that Ivy has leveled against Mr. J are worrisome. Mr. Ivy has gone so far as to take his girls out of the Charleston school system and is home schooling them. In this era of repeated sexual abuse by Catholic priests against children, and high-profile cases like Jerry Sandusky's, it is fair and reasonable that a father, who understands better than most the male psyche, is nervous and wants answers. It is just too sad that in the state of Missouri, many of their institutions just don't seem to care.

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Dwight Taylor from Gary  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 1:39 PM

Ivy and I talked about a year ago regarding this unfortunate incident. First of all, I hope his girls are doing fine. When I was informed of this, I immediately felt the school system goofed. I also felt the police department goofed for various reasons. Why wasn't this father's allegations taken serious? Why did the driver have a weapon on the bus? I'm certain that is against the bus company's policy. I hope Ivy has a good attorney.