PTAs favor policy for radio use on buses School board to rule on 'discretion' plea

October 17, 1997|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

The Anne Arundel County Council of PTAs voted 15-12 last night to support the county's proposed policy that drivers use discretion in the music they play on school buses.

That means the council, which represents 70 of the county's 127 schools, will speak in favor of the proposed policy when the eight-member school board takes up the issue at a meeting next month.

The proposed policy states: "Special care must be exercised to avoid the broadcasting of questionable or undesirable materials."

The school system's department of transportation proposed the policy last summer, but the board asked for input from parent groups.

Last night's vote will, no doubt, influence the board's decision.

At the two-hour meeting at Four Seasons Elementary School in Gambrills last night, Robert C. Leib, director of business services for county public schools, said three parents have complained about offensive radio broadcasts -- either lyrics or disc jockey banter -- in the three years he has had the position.

None of those complaints were made this school year, he said.

Leib said about 50,000 students ride the buses every day. Neighboring counties -- Baltimore, Calvert, Carroll, Charles, Harford, Howard, Prince George's and Montgomery -- do not have policies that prohibit radio use while students are on board, he said.

After Leib's comments, parents addressed the proposed policy.

Carolyn Roeding, safety committee chairwoman for the countywide PTA, said the radio promotes safety because it helps control students and can alert bus drivers to hazardous road conditions.

Several parents, who favored the proposal, said it is unrealistic to expect that students wouldn't listen to the radio at some point or be exposed to sexually explicit material on the Internet.

Diane Brown, who has children at Belvedere Elementary School in Severna Park, opposes the broadcasting of radio music on the buses. She said her children heard sexually explicit material on the radio while taking the bus, but that the driver continued to listen to the stations even after the principal told him not to.

Brown said the driver later told her that the contracted bus company owned the vehicle and that the principal had no control.

That upset her.

"Once our children have heard it, it cannot be erased. It cannot be taken back," she said.

Another parent, Cindy Shreve, the mother of a 7-year-old at Belvedere, spoke against the proposed policy, saying the discretion that the school emphasizes might not match what parents would select.

"Suppose [the bus driver] thinks Howard Stern is appropriate? We have no say," she said.

Pub Date: 10/17/97

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