Beyond the Headlines

Rushing to judgment

Posted: Nov 23, 2012 12:52 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 23, 2012 12:52 PM ET
Heather Vidito has become something of a cause célèbre in Nova Scotia.
 
Vidito is the school bus driver who, according to her friends, has been fired by Stock Transportation for her F-bomb laced tirade aimed at stopping a group of students from fighting on her bus. The altercation was filmed on a student's cellphone and posted to YouTube.
 
Nova Scotians are rallying to support Vidito.
 
There is a Facbook page called "Stock Transportation - Give Heather Vidito her job back!" that as of Friday morning had more than 1,500 members. And our online stories about the incident have attracted hundreds of comments, the vast majority supporting Vidito.
 
The comments all seem to boil down to this: driving a school bus is a crappy job and her reaction, profanity included, to a bunch of disrespectful "punks" was exactly how any of us would have reacted. In fact, many say they wouldn't have been as restrained. They say the kids should be disciplined and Vidito given a pat on the back.
 
Many attacked Doug Hadley, the spokesman for the Halifax Regional School Board, for his comments that it was "very disturbing to see that type of language being used by a driver."
 
Hadley said he stands by his comments.
 
"People are more than welcome to express their opinion," said Hadley. "From our standpoint, none of the actions or use of language is appropriate for anyone involved, and I would hope that regardless of the situation a person wouldn't speak to anyone using that language, whether it's a police officer, whether it's a teacher or a coach."
 
Or a bus driver.
 
Hadley said the students involved have been disciplined under the board's code of conduct, but he won't say how. The board won't comment on Vidito's status because she is an employee of Stock Transportation and they are saying little about the matter. 
 
That leaves a number of unanswered questions.
 
Was this the first time Vidito was involved in something like this on her bus? Have there been previous complaints about her behaviour? Did she react the way she did because, as reported, her son was one of the kids fighting?
 
Does Stock provide Vidito, and all the other drivers, with conflict resolution training and is it adequate? If there was trouble on this route before, why wasn't there a monitor on the bus so Vidito's only responsibility would be to concentrate on driving the kids home safely?
 
The Stock Transportation bus drivers are represented by the NSGEU and it is now involved in Vidito's case. This will, no doubt, go to arbitration or some other form of hearing, and it's quite possible Vidito will eventually get her job back.
 
In the meantime the debate rages online, with just about everyone taking a strong opinion on one side or the other, even though none of us has all the facts.

UPDATE FRIDAY 3:20PM: Stock Transportation just issued this statement confirming Vidito has been fired for "a clear breach of policies and procedures regarding student management."

Read the complete statement here: Stock Statement.pdf






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About the Author

Brian DuBreuil is a veteran journalist with CBC News. He has won two Gemini awards for his work, and neither involved dancing or singing on a reality show.

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