This article underwritten by: Renetta DuBose
Lakeshore News Investigates: Violence, Safety at Gary School Bus Stop
September 4, 2013 — Parents throughout the country send their children out the door and off to the bus stop with the expectation that they will go to school without incident. That process is not always the case. After numerous complaints against students from residents in one Gary neighborhood, Lakeshore News Reporter Renetta DuBose investigated a Glen Park bus stop and exposed those students and their actions, which could lead some students to jail instead of the principal’s office. Click to watch.
If you listen closely, you can hear the sounds of nature at Charlene Carson’s home on the corner of 43rd Ave. and Harrison St. It doubles as a daycare, but at 7:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, it becomes a bus stop, one that Carson claimed is filled with unruly children.
“They come down, they fight, they throw rocks at each other, they throw rocks at cars,” Carson said.
Carson, who watches the students every morning from her front gate, said as many as 30 kids become trouble every morning. So, I set up hidden Lakeshore News cameras near the bus stop, to experience what she sees.
Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013
The first few students arrived at the bus stop at 7:00 a.m. Those elementary students, who attend Glen Park Academy for Excellence In Learning, typically gather in Carson’s driveway, where hidden camera number one was strategically placed. Others lingered between the bus stop and the sidewalk along 43rd Ave., right in front of the lens of hidden camera number two. The students quietly waited for the school bus as others arrived. While three can be a crowd, 30 can cause trouble.
“A senior citizen was coming down the street, and a kid ran in front of him. It upset him so bad he had to park across the street. I thought he had a heart attack because he put his head on the seat,” said Carson.
While horse playing in the street scared some drivers, others slowed down warning students to get out of the way. Thankfully, none were hit. One student, who chose to stay on the sidewalk, threw rocks at Carson’s trash can instead.
“They don’t obey. If you try to talk to them, they curse you out. These are grade school kids,” said Carson.
Those elementary school kids, ranging in ages from about seven to ten, are truly learning an alternative language. Many yelled out explicit language at the bus stop during the investigation.
Fed up with the profanity, which spreads to her toddlers in daycare, Carson reported some students’ behaviors to their parents.
“A couple of mornings later my car was scratched up. Another time I reported something to their parents, about five kids came and surrounded me like they wanted to jump me,” said Carson.
Gary Police Department Cmdr. Kerry Rice said acts of vandalism and fights can land students and their parents in court.
“The child can be charged with battery for hitting another kid. A child can be charged with criminal mischief for breaking out windows. Not only does the parent have to look forward to the criminal case, but they also can be sued civilly by the home owner,” Cmdr. Rice said.
Once the bus arrived, around 7:45 a.m., the students rushed to its door. Cmdr. Rice said more than 30 students at one stop could be an issue. He also said multiple schools picking-up students at one location can be an issue. As for their actions, school principals are not responsible, neither is the bus company until the student arrives at school or boards the bus.
“Before a kid boards the bus, the parent is responsible for them,” said Cmdr. Rice.
After the hidden cameras were revealed, different students awaiting a bus ride to Gary Lighthouse Charter and Pulaski Middle Schools were in the company of two professed high school graduates who were smoking what appeared to be an illegal substance.
“Two or three years they will be really out of control and half of them will be dead or in jail,” said Carson.
Carson is a member of the “600 Block of West 43rd Place That’s Us” block club. The members want parents to do more.
“I know a lot of parents work. I can understand that, but we have a lot of parents just at home. The ones that’s not working, they really need to come out and see what their kids are doing on the bus stop,” said Carson.
Ethel Collins started the block club and she calls police frequently when students are out of hand.
“We live here in the community, and we want a better community for ourselves as well as our children,” said Collins, the block club organizer.
Carson may complain about the students, but she also performs safety checks, makes hot cocoa, and supplies the same kids with winter accessories and socks.
“I believe if we work together in the neighborhood and try to help them and show them love, I believe they could be better kids,” Carson said.