Bus driver arrested
BALTIMORE -- Carroll County school bus driver Wenda K. Bollinger set out for a routine field trip to the Maryland Science Center -- at the wheel of one of 5,000 buses passing through each year -- but ended up in jail.
Now, her lawyer says, she's considering a lawsuit. And the county school administration and
Baltimore mayor have asked for an investigation of the incident.
Bollinger's troubles started when, as the last of a four-bus caravan from Sykesville Middle School on Wednesday, the back of her bus protruded onto the Key Highway. A plainclothes police officer thumped at the bus window, demanding that the bus be moved.
Bollinger replied that she was still unloading children and asked for identification, but the officer produced only an ID, not a badge. Bollinger shut the window.
After the children had gone into the Science Center, she moved the bus. By then, more officers had arrived to arrest her and whisk her off in a police wagon.
That's the account provided by Carroll school officials, who are backing up Bollinger, and by her lawyer.
"My understanding is the driver acted properly by saying, 'I need to see some ID,' " said William H.
Hyde, assistant schools superintendent. "You have to make sure you're not just dealing with an irate person."
Her lawyer, Ralph T. Uebersax of Westminster, said his client was back at work Friday but still "upset" about being handcuffed, strip-searched and jailed for doing only what she thought she was supposed to do.
Bollinger, 36, of Mount Airy, was charged with failure to show her driver's license and registration on demand and failure to obey a police officer, according to city police spokesman Sam Ringgold.
He confirmed most of the other account of the arrest, but could not say whether the officer produced a police badge in the course of identifying herself.
The Carroll schools administration has asked City Hall to investigate Bollinger's treatment.
Anthony Jones, an aide to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, said the mayor had asked the city police commissioner to look into the incident.
School safety in doubt
Teachers are worried about safety, especially at middle
schools, said Cindy Cummings, president of the Carroll County Education Association.
"Kids are coming to school with weapons," Cummings said.
She addressed the Board of Education at an unannounced meeting the members had with each of the employee groups.
The meeting had not been publicly posted. Member Ann Ballard said the meeting is held each year for the board to hear from employees before setting goals for the coming year. No actions are taken at the meetings, she said.
Cummings was not alone in her concerns. Other teachers and administrators expressed concern about children bringing pocket knives to school and one case at East Middle School in which police were called after a boy brought a gun to school.
The boy had been playing with it at home and jammed it, and was to have another student in the school fix it before his father found out. Another student who saw them reported it to school officials.
Ballard said she isn't convinced the problem is very serious in Carroll County.
"I have a middle school student at Mount Airy Middle School, and I can't see where the year was any different from other years," Ballard said.