A mom in Livingston, Montana, said her 8-year-old son was kicked off his school bus and “left on the side of the road” this week because he didn’t have a face mask.
On Tuesday, Tara Marsh left for work believing her two sons were safe on their school bus. Unbeknownst to Marsh during her commute, the unidentified bus driver allegedly ordered her young son to get off the school bus because he had forgotten his mask.
“Believing they were safely on the bus, I left and headed to work ‘trusting’ in the school system and our school’s transportation department. The bus driver never asked our son if he had an extra mask, nor was he offered one, or asked to pull up his shirt, coat, use a glove, hat anything to cover his face,” Marsh wrote in a public Facebook post. “He was ORDERED to get off. The bus driver then closed the door and left him!”
Marsh’s oldest son – who had already boarded the bus – didn’t notice his 8-year-old brother was kicked off and “left on the side of the road until the bus driver took off.”
At the next stop, Marsh said her older son asked the bus driver where his brother was, at which point the driver said “he wouldn’t let him on because he didn’t have a mask.” Marsh’s oldest son told the bus driver that he needed to find his younger brother, so the driver let him off.
“Our oldest son took off running down the road in the direction of the last bus stop only to find his brother gone,” Marsh’s Facebook post stated. “Now panic set in our oldest son as his little brother was nowhere in sight. So, he started running up a different street where he spotted his younger brother headed in the direction of our house. When he reached him, he was sobbing hysterically and extremely traumatized. As a matter of fact, this incident has traumatized our entire family!”
“Thankfully, as they were getting back to our house, their father was just pulling up after working a 48 [hour] shift and was just getting home,” she continued. “Otherwise, they would have been locked out of the house in the cold as well.”
According to the post, Marsh’s husband was “livid” after learning what happened. Marsh said he called the school’s transportation department and spoke with a manager who said it was “not their problem nor fault for what had taken place.”
After her husband noted the incident put his children in danger, Marsh said the manager “literally laughed at him over the phone” and said there was nothing he could do.
Marsh then contacted the Livingston School District superintendent who “seemed appalled and apologized” and assured Ms. Marsh that the incident “would be taken care of.”
The superintendent later told the Livingston mom that she had scheduled a meeting with the bus driver and his manager and that “actions would be taken.” The superintendent said she would also get back to Marsh after the meeting.
“I didn’t hear anything for two days until I made a phone call wanting to know what was going on. I was told that there was a different bus driver on their route (which my kids already told me) and that she couldn’t go into details with the bus driver as it is personal information,” Marsh wrote. “Now isn’t that something?”
Marsh said she wrote the public Facebook post “to draw public attention to the fact that our school system is failing when it comes to communication about our children, their safety and what is morally and ethically right.”
“I considered our school system safe and I “trusted” them with the care of my children. But when that system fails to provide basic safety and endangers our children there should be an outcry and things need to change!” Marsh wrote. “As parents we NEED to be involved in everything that has to do with the education of our children, as we are our children’s advocates.”
In late August, Governor Greg Gianforte announced the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services issued an emergency rule to promote parents as “the ultimate decision makers on matters pertaining to the health of their children, including on the issue of wearing masks in schools.”
“This emergency rule ultimately directs schools to recognize the fundamental rights of parents, and because each child is unique and may face unique challenges, this rule urges schools to empower parents to do what’s best for their children,” Gov. Gianforte said in a statement.
The emergency rule states that Montana schools and school districts “should provide students and/or their parents or guardians, on their behalf, with the ability to opt-out of health-related mandates, to include wearing a mask or face covering, for reasons including: physical health; mental health; emotional health; psychosocial health; developmental needs; or religious belief, moral conviction, or other fundamental right the impairment of which could negatively impact the physical, mental, emotional, or psychosocial health of students.”