School bus drivers have to follow a strict set of rules in order to ensure the safety of the children on their vehicles. One of those rules for bus drivers in Broward County, Florida, is not to talk on the phone while driving the bus.
Driver Rossana Lucas was suspended for five days by the school board when video surveillance footage of her taking a phone call while driving a school bus surfaced. But the circumstances surrounding whom she was talking to and why she took the call are now part of her appeal to get the school board's decision overturned.
Lucas's son, Marine Michael Alfaro, called from Afghanistan, where he is currently deployed. Lucas had not heard from him in more than seven months and said that she knew in her heart that it was her son calling, and that is why she chose to answer the phone. Lucas said she also knew that if she did not answer, that Alfaro would have to wait another three to four months to call her again.
In addition to the phone call being from her son, when Lucas took the call, there were no children on the bus, and she was only a couple of blocks away from the parking lot. Lucas said she had no time to call dispatch in order to get permission to take the call, because the phone was already ringing.
Lucas said that her son had called just before Christmas to let her know that he was OK and to wish her a happy birthday. Her birthday is Dec. 10.
The school board has scheduled another hearing for Lucas's case on April 9, and there is some hope that the decision may be overturned, because Lucas has people in high places on her side. One of them is district superintendent Robert Runcie, who said that the circumstances warrant taking another look at the case.
Lucas has driven the school bus for seven years, and prior to this incident, she said, she has not been in trouble with the board once.