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Bus drivers are upset by policy
New policy for bus drivers creates buzz at School Board meeting

Date published: 9/15/2009

BY PAMELA GOULD

Katrina Duncan told the Spotsylvania County School Board she found questions about her sex life completely out of bounds for a physical to assess her fitness to drive a school bus.

Sharon Calahan said she couldn't understand why she needed a breast exam as part of that physical.

And Cindy Robinson said she was terrified after twice being told she had a thyroid problem.

"I was frantic. I feared for my life," Robinson told the board. She then held up a sheet of paper she said came from an endocrinologist she consulted.

"I have a piece of paper that says my thyroid is perfect."

Each of those complaints was leveled against the school division's director of health services, Pat Smith, who is a nurse practitioner. They were among complaints brought before the school board by school bus drivers in response to a policy passed in August that requires them to get their annual physical exams by the school division nurse practitioner.

About 50 school bus drivers came to last night's School Board meeting to complain about the policy and ask that it be changed.

After Smith was named by one driver, Assistant Superintendent James Meyer asked speakers not to use names. However, the school division has just one person in that position.

Debbie Marshall Neunsinger said she found the policy un-American.

"This is the United States, where I have the choice to choose my physician," she said.

Superintendent Jerry Hill said after the complaints that whenever he hears comments such as those, there "are always some kernels of truth."

He said the decision to change the policy was made out of concern for safety but added that he heard things from the bus drivers that were news to him.

"Some issues I heard tonight certainly for the first time," he said.

Other board members concurred.

Board member Linda Wieland said she wrote "pages of notes" on the information from the drivers and said the matter "will be revisited."

"Sometimes, through no one's fault, there are things we don't know," she said.

"There are some problems we need to look at, and we'll do that," board member Jim Gillespie said.

"I heard some things tonight I would like to look back and revisit," board member Amanda Blalock said.


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