By: Krystle Crossman
Wyatt is a typically first grade student at Hood Canal School in Skokomish, WA. He loves robots and will tell you all about what he is putting on his Christmas list for Santa. He likes to talk about his involvement with the Cub Scouts. One thing that he does not like however is riding the school bus. Normally kids love riding the big yellow bus when they are that young, but not Wyatt. He says it hurts his ears. His father can’t even talk about young Wyatt’s bus rides without breaking down into tears. Wyatt doesn’t talk about the other reason why he doesn’t enjoy the bus rides but his father spoke out in an interview with a local news team.
When a child is unruly on a bus or when they do not listen to the safety rules the bus driver will normally move them to the front seat when it is safe to do so and make them sit there for the remainder of the ride. At the Skokomish School District however they have a different form of punishment that Wyatt’s father feels is a form of unlawful imprisonment.
On the buses of the school district you will find blue harnesses. They look harmless at first but when they are in use there are many different safety issues. The harness keeps the restrained child strapped to the seat. Should there be an accident they would not be able to get themselves out of the harness. If there were a fire on the bus they would not be able to get themselves to safety unless someone else helped them. They are completely incapacitated once they are restrained in this harness.
Wyatt’s father is brought to tears any time that he speaks about the harness. He says that he just can’t imagine them strapping his son in like that against his will. The school district representatives would not go on camera with the news crew to speak about the harness but the superintendent, Shawn Batstone, did issue a statement. They stated that there wasn’t much that they could do about the situation. They said that Wyatt has had a number of behavioral issues and this was the only way to keep him safe as well as the driver and the other students. The schools says that they have spoken to Wyatt’s father many times and have informed him that they need to ensure the safety of everyone on the bus. Batstone says that they only use the harness after they have spoken to the parents multiple times and also after the parents have signed a consent form for it to be used.