To the Editor:
In regards to George Keyser, the bus driver who was accused of “physically handling” a special needs student, I can no longer hold back, and I must comment.
Mr. Keyser has driven our children for 23 years. He has driven two of my children during this time and I hope a third next year. I also have come to know George both on and off the job, and have become very familiar with the details surrounding the accusation, and frankly find it very troubling.
First and foremost, the bus was understaffed as it lacked an aid and with the number of students, and special needs students aboard, it should have never been put on the road without an aid. This matter has now been fixed, but a day late.
Mr. Keyser did his job, which was to keep any students from becoming injured while in his custody. He also did not injure, hurt, embarrass nor restrain any student physically.
If my own child was out of control and at risk of injuring others or themselves while in the care of the school system, I would have no problem with any teacher or bus driver physically restraining them, or doing whatever would be reasonable as it is their job and responsibility.
What has the world come to, when a teacher or bus driver would be frowned upon for controlling a group of students, they are given charge of? In allowing this, we are placing our teachers and bus drivers in a bad situation, and our children in danger.
However, this did not happen as portrayed. George Keyser was accused by a parent of “physically handling” a student, and even without evidence or an injured party, our school administrator threw Mr. Keyser to the dogs after 23 years of service, by demanding his criminal prosecution. This criminal prosecution was pushed harder, because Mr. Keyser’s wife is also a public servant to our community, so as to keep from any thought of favoritism, this was farmed out to Tuscarawas County for investigation.
Thus more embarrassment and more bad press. With the school taking this action, the community has tried and convicted him immediately in their minds. Demeaning comments have been made to him while in public by uninformed citizens and he has been subjected to numerous private jokes and comments. It seems that he was actually treated worse, because his wife also serves our community.
To add insult to injury, he had been put on “paid” leave, but the school administrator has refused to mail his paychecks to him and told him that he was not allowed to come on school property to pick them up during the “investigation” and no one else would be given them to pass onto him, as it was against policy.
Now, after a through investigation, he has been found without fault by the grand jury. What happens now? Is he to simply and quietly come back to his job, publicly embarrassed, and with out public apology? This man is from our community, and has spent 23 years of his life, taking our children safely to and from school.
I am calling for a very public and sincere apology from our school administrator for the handling of this entire situation. This shouldn’t have happened to begin with.