Sarah Auger, an 8-year-old girl, has a passion for reading and enjoyed using her bus ride home to get lost in her books. That is, until her bus driver prevented her from doing so on the grounds that reading books could be dangerous.
The 40-year veteran told Auger that she could encourage other school children to stand up in order to see what she was reading, or that the corners of the pages could cause injury in case of a sudden stop. The decision has forced Sarah to keep her books in her bag, at least until she makes it home.
The local school board in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, pointed out that ultimately, it was up to whoever was driving the bus to make the rules.
“The responsibility of a school bus driver is to transport students safely,” general secretary and director of communications Maria Champagne told CBC.
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Although the school board acknowledged that reading was not dangerous, it suggested that there was some basis for the driver’s decision.
“A bus makes frequent and sometimes sudden stops. Any object, be it a book, a toy or electronic device can be a potential danger when a young child ... gets up to go and get it while the bus is in motion,” the board wrote.
However, the board announced that it was planning to review regulations to strike a better balance. This will be welcomed by Daniel Abel, Sarah’s dad, who was frustrated by the driver’s refusal to let his daughter read. “I find it stupid and useless,” he said.
Abel took the matter up with the school board, prompting the statement. He told CBC that he was very proud of his daughter’s enthusiasm for reading, and hoped that the ban on reading while traveling on the bus could be overturned soon.