Pasco County school buses have shortage of digital cameras

No video to investigate prior complaints

It wasn't the first time a parent accused James Lambert of hitting or harassing a disabled student on the bus. The I-Team combed through Lambert's employment file and found five complaints dating to 2011.
Jeffrey Lamb's mother, Lori, filed two of those cases in February. But the documents we obtained show there was no video on that bus, so the bus aide remained.
Then on June 3 Lori's fear played out on videotape when Lambert slapped her 10-year-old son Jeffrey, who is autistic. He was slapped not once, but twice.
In February we raised questions about the number of working cameras on the buses.  Now we've learned that almost half of the 385 buses that run routes in Pasco County do not contain cameras.
Of the 200 buses with surveillance equipment only 50 use newer DVR systems. Compare that to Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, where transportation officials say 100 percent of their buses are equipped with DVRs.
Pasco County Schools Director of Transportation Gary Sawyer recently put together a special budget request. And we discovered that the request for more than $429,000 would cover the cost of installing DVR systems on 300 buses.
The mothers whose children have been hurt on the rides home believe more digital eyes will identify bullies big and small before they can strike twice.
Transportation officials claim they entered the special budget request before 10-year-old Jeffrey Lamb was slapped across the face.
Next there will be at least one hearing on the expenditure and ultimately it will be put to a vote by the School Board. The board does have the option of purchasing less than the 300 cameras asked for.


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