BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - An Ocean Springs school bus driver who is accused of inappropriately touching a child is out on bond Tuesday. The superintendent said she fired Sergio Ardo Sandoval after reviewing video from the bus camera.
Many school districts have installed cameras to protect students and drivers. For example, in Biloxi, all 60 buses have two cameras on board to record what goes on inside the bus, as well as the area right outside the windows.
When an SUV collided with a Biloxi school bus last week, the cameras on the bus played a big role in the investigation.
"We're able to see where the bus was and the proximity of an intersection when it was struck. When we have any claims from students who are hurt, we'll look at where they were sitting. We can identify who they are and possible sustained injuries they could have incurred," said Biloxi Schools Transportation Director Sam Bailey.
Fortunately, Selina Russell has never been involved in a bus crash. She drives a special needs bus for Biloxi. Even before her bus rolls, the cameras are already rolling.
"I know it's there. It's our friend. It will record audio and video. It's our extra eyes and ears on the bus," said Russell.
The two cameras on board each bus record the drivers' every move, like when they stepped on the brakes, their speed, GPS location, and whether they activated the warning signals. The cameras even have night vision.
Russell said the devices come in handy when parents or principals raise questions about the way the drivers operate the vehicle or a student's behavior.
"I'm perfectly glad they're there. It protects us and the children. Like if you have a concerned parent, about something that's not right with their child, our boss can pull the camera and look at it and see exactly what was said or what happened," said Russell.
And once the bus stops and the ignition is shut off, the cameras are still recording.
"The camera still runs about 20 minutes. At that time, I'll inspect the bus to make sure no child is left behind," said Russell.
The district also uses the recordings for random employee evaluations.
"We may randomly pull the video to see how the driver is doing. It doesn't necessarily have to be a concern that arises, but it is part of our quality assurance. The cameras are excellent. They do assist in a lot of ways and it's good for a management tool, as well as training for the drivers and employees, and to monitor our students," said Bailey.
School superintendents in Jackson and Harrison counties said most of their buses have cameras on them. Hancock County is in the process of installing cameras on all of its 72 buses.