GMT would like to begin by recognizing the impact this incident had on students and our community. GMT values the diversity of our passengers and moving forward GMT will continue its commitment to being a welcoming, safe, and socially just organization.
Regarding the events that took place Thursday May 23rd on a GMT School Tripper, GMT and Burlington School District officials met to review on-board surveillance video. Upon review, officials from both organizations identified places where breakdowns in expectation occurred, and agree that this incident did not appear to be race related. The agencies agreed to move forward with a commitment to reinforce the expectation of on-board behavior and partner with the school district to reinforce a strong partnership that makes student safety a priority.
Green Mountain Transit does not condone the actions taken by the bus operator and agrees that students shouldn’t have been asked to leave the bus without proper safety measures in place. All GMT Operators receive de-escalation training, and based on the video footage, the bus operator didn’t try to de-escalate the situation before reacting. Disciplinary action has been taken based on the operator not meeting the standards of customer service set by GMT, not following internal process, and exercising poor judgement in removing students from the bus.
In the video, students appear to be singing, dancing, pushing, and banging on the windows. The behavior continues after the bus operator tells them to “stop banging on the windows.” A few moments later, the bus operator pulls over and all students in the rear of the bus, inclusive of all races, based on their behavior, are dismissed from the bus.
“Safety is a top priority for GMT,” says General Manager, Mark A Sousa. “Passenger safety, but also the safety of others sharing the road. The ability for our operators to drive the bus without distraction is critical for the public safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists.”
This situation has presented a learning opportunity for GMT and the Burlington School District. Both parties are committed to creating opportunities for students to learn about on-board safety and expectation, but also finding a way to involve students and the community.
“On behalf of GMT, I’d like to offer an apology to all students, parents, and community members affected by this incident. You have our commitment to take all necessary steps to prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future.” –General Manager, Mark A. Sousa.