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Parent reacts to alleged sexual assault on school bus

STANFORD – The alleged incident that occurred on a Lincoln County school bus recently – and resulted in the arrest of an 18-year-old student – has prompted one mother to pull her daughters from the school bus route for fear of their safety.

Carrie Brown, the mother of two Hustonville Elementary school students, said she was shocked when she received a letter from the school district, alerting parents of the Sept. 27 incident.

Parents were informed that an 18-year-old student was arrested and charged with first-degree sexual abuse related to events that occurred on the school bus.

Brown said her children ride that same bus. Luckily, they had been taken out of school early that Friday for a family trip, she said, and didn’t witness the incident.

Parents weren’t notified until the following Monday, however, Brown said, and her first-grade daughter happened to ride the bus home without her older sibling that day.

“I had let her ride the bus alone and that scared me as well,” Brown said. “I always tell them on the school bus to sit together, stay together. But it was a scare. It’s scary to think that something like that can happen on your kids’ bus.”

Brown said she had no idea the 18-year-old, identified as Matthew J. Boswell, was on her kids’ bus or that he had been previously charged with a violent offense for behavior on the bus. Boswell was first charged with fourth-degree assault and harassment on Sept. 13 for allegedly assaulting two juvenile students, according to the arrest citation.

“The idea of the first incident and nothing was done about it really, and they allowed him back on the bus…he was obviously a danger to people and other kids on the bus,” Brown said. “I think everybody is kind of concerned.”

Boswell was not taken into custody after the first incident, but was cited to appear in court on the charges, according to court records.

Brown, like several other parents of students in the district, believes bus monitors could go a long way in preventing incidents like this in the future.

“I know that bus monitors won’t take care of everything, of course. There’s obviously stuff that’s still going to happen, but I think it would definitely help to have monitors on the bus,” she said.

In the meantime, Brown said her daughters won’t be riding the bus anymore, and she and a close friend will continue to carpool.

School board discusses bus monitors

During a special-called meeting last Thursday, Lincoln County School Board members discussed bus security and potential ways to improve bus routes across the district.

According to Superintendent Michael Rowe there are currently seven bus routes that have bus monitors, which are the Exception Child bus routes.

“Those are being paid for with funds from the Exceptional Child budget,” Rowe said. “Of those, you can see, that average salary with benefits is around $11,200 and some change.”

In total, about $78,000 comes out of the Exceptional Child budget to pay for bus monitors.

“We have 46 additional routes beyond the seven we have for Exceptional Child,” he said.

To put a monitor on every bus route, it would cost about $518,000.

Board Member Alan Hubble said he was contacted by some concerned people after the recent school bus incident.

“I can see that there’s a problem and there’s a need. Whether we can actually afford it, I did not know that,” he said. “I’d like to see something try to be done. If all else, I’d like to see us try some sort of a pilot (program).”
Hubble asked if there was a way to start out with a smaller number of monitors.

Board Member Ethan Jones suggested rotating monitors across routes.

“Kind of like putting a policeman at the corner of a lot,” Hubble said. “If he’s there for three days in a row, who says he’s going to be there on the fourth. Especially if they don’t sit in the same place on the bus all the time…after a week, if you can get somebody thinking there’s somebody there, whether there’s somebody there or not, they’re going to act differently.”

Board Member Win Smith said he would like to make sure monitors undergo training before placing them on buses.

“I’d like to make sure that we don’t just hire people and stick them on the bus and think just because we have an adult on there that it’s going to make a difference,” Smith said. “I’d like to see them getting the training they need to functional well on the buses.”

Rowe said the topic would be on the agenda for the regular monthly board meeting, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 14.