Archive for Thursday, March 25, 2004

Bus driver fired over protest song

March 25, 2004

A bus driver who allowed elementary school children to listen to a song containing lyrics some parents found objectionable, has been fired from his job in the Basehor-Linwood School District.

The driver, an employee of Easton Bus Service in Leavenworth, which provides several area schools with transportation services, reportedly played a song over the bus's loud speaker for elementary school students titled "National Brotherhood Week," during routes before spring break.

The song contains lyrics such as this: 'oh, the poor folks hate the rich folks, and the rich folks hate the poor folks, all of my folks hate all of your folks, it's as American as apple pie.'

The song also references several ethnic groups and people of various religions.

It was written by Tom Lehrer, a former Harvard professor and political satire songwriter. Songs written by Lehrer have been used in various forms, including anthems during protests and tracks used during public broadcasting specials.

Whether the song is offensive is up to conjecture. However, parents and the Basehor-Linwood School District made clear their opinions on the song being played for elementary school children riding the bus.

After taking parent complaints, the school district contacted Easton Bus Service and informed them of the situation. The company was quick to respond, said Don Swartz, school district director of building operations.

"(They thought) the same as us, it's totally inappropriate," Swartz said.

Cheryl Blackburn, who coordinates Basehor-Linwood busing for Easton Bus Service, said the driver is no longer working in Basehor-Linwood.

"He is not driving a bus for our school district anymore," Blackburn said.

Swartz said the incident with the bus driver is an isolated case and most definitely not commonplace for other drivers employed by Easton Bus Service working in Basehor-Linwood.

"We don't have any problems with them at all," he said. "We're very happy. It's not ordinary behavior and not something we deal with regularly."

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