Great Bend school district to change bus policy in wake of alleged assault

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During Tuesday night's Great Bend school board meeting, members were briefed on three additions to the school bus policy's adult chaperone (sponsor) duties.

1. The sponsor is responsible for adequate supervision on the bus. 2. The sponsor shall sit in the front, middle and back of the bus to enable them to monitor all students. 3. The sponsor shall separate boys and girls on co-ed trips with space between the groups. A sponsor shall sit in the space between.

Michele O'Neil attended the meeting, hoping the district would elaborate on these changes in the wake of her child's alleged attack. She says her freshman son was sexually assaulted on a school bus by teammates on the way home from a swim meet in Manhattan February 6. O'Neil says coaches sat oblivious in the front seats.

Board members made no mention of the incident during the meeting, and refused to answer questions about it afterward.

O'Neil says she's disappointed other topics at the meeting, like a new football coach, were more important than discussing students' safety. While she's started home-schooling her son, O'Neil still has other children in the district and says she's worried about their well-being now.

Last week, the Ellsworth County sheriff recommended battery charges for five boys and criminal restraint charges for three boys in O'Neil's son's case.

The Barton County sheriff is also investigating another alleged assault on a school bus involving the swim team from February 3. The sheriff tells KAKEnews the investigation is ongoing and a top priority for his office.