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Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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In wake of bus driver firings, school system highlights automated safety system

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BATON ROUGE - For 16 years, Freddie Phillips has driven students for East Baton Rouge schools, and he takes pride in his work.

“Every morning. In fact, they're so enthusiastic when they get on they look for me to come. They look at my bus they see how decked out it is, how well kept it is. I know every student by name,” Phillips said.

Phillips attended in-service training for EBR bus operators this weeks.

“Well, the system can only get better because that's what we're here to do, to improve what we do. I think that's the educational process,” he said.

In less than a month's time, two students were left on a bus in two separate incidents in Baton Rouge. Phillips said using the on-board alarm system should prevent it from happening.

“Most of the buses in our fleet have safety devices such as this one,” said Phillips.

According to the school system, about 500 of the more than 600 buses have the sleeping child check system, and that alarm is triggered when the bus turns on and it sounds if the bus driver doesn't walk to the back of the bus to turn it off.

The EBR superintendent said today's training is not just a reaction to recent incidents, but it is a reminder to drivers how critical they are to the students and schools they service.

“I don't think that driver intentionally did that, and they've lost their job over it,” said Superintendent Warren Drake. “That's how important this position is to us and this system."

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