Brick mom says school buses should have cams after son was beat up
BRICK — A township mom has started an online petition urging the public school district to install cameras on all its buses after she said her son in middle school was punched and choked by another student on his bus.
Launching her Change.org petition last week, Katie Zeoli said of her son was punched in the face and then choked by the other boy, while other students took video of the incident on Oct. 28. She also said the bus driver was unaware of what had happened.
“Buses are extremely small spaces with a captive audience and a bus driver whose focus is on the road. It should be mandatory that every school bus is Brick Township has both interior and exterior cameras installed in their buses. That would be about 90 buses in total," Zeoli said in her online petition, which collected about 800 signatures in about one week.
A Tuesday update on the petition said Zeoli had been contacted by Mayor John Ducey.
Ducey said Wednesday that he met with the mom and "let her know that I would get her email request for cameras inside the buses to the Superintendent of Schools," adding the Superintendent and the Board of Education would be able to address a possible change in policy.
Acting Superintendent of Schools Sean Cranston did not return request for comment by late Tuesday afternoon.
"No one stepped in to help. The only reason the other child stopped choking my son because the bus had stopped at my son's bus stop. My son ran off the bus crying while everyone was making fun of him," Zeoli said in an email.
Zeoli said she believes the student who attacked her son was suspended for two days and that the attack was over a girl.
"This type of behavior is not only unacceptable but extremely concerning," she said. "I understand kids get in fights, however this was way beyond that. If they were adults that kid would have been charged with attempted murder."
Earlier in October, a Morris County school district confirmed it had started installing exterior-facing cameras on its school buses in an effort to catch dangerous drivers. In Rockaway Township, if a camera captures a possible violation, that footage is sent by the Board of Education to the police department's traffic division, where an officer will review the video and determine if a summons is appropriate.
At the state level, a measure sponsored by Assemblyman Rob Karabinchak, D-Middlesex, also addresses exterior cameras as part of a school bus monitoring system to identify drivers who do not stop for school buses and send them a ticket in the mail. Among critics of the plan is state Sen. Declan O'Scanlon, R-Monmouth, who led the charge to dismantle the state's red-light cameras.
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