Mom Shocked About FOX 17 Bus Investigation Results: School Asks Parents To Send Complaints Again

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WAYLAND, Mich. (April 21, 2014)– Monday, some Wayland Union School parents were waiting to see whether the school board would make a decision on whether or not to keep Transportation Supervisor Jeff Schilthroat on the job by renewing his contract.

No decision was made; however, the superintendent is asking parents to resubmit complaints dealing with school buses to a different administrator.

Schilthroat’s job performance has been under scrutiny following an assault on a bus which was captured on security video.

Documents FOX 17 obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed that he attempted to hide a portion of that video that showed the bus driver’s reaction from the parents.

“We’re here to advocate for our children,” said Amber Canfield, a concerned parent.

Parents including Canfield, who said her son received serious bruises on a bus ride, are lobbying for change in the district following problems on Malissa Westfahl’s bus.

Concerned parent Tiffany Chichester said her biggest issue with Westfahl was, “Her really not addressing the situations on the bus.”

Mom Amanda Reed said Westfahl intimidated her son and called him “Mohawk,” and that she alerted Schilthroat about it, but nothing was officially documented regarding her complaint.

Schilthroat told administrators during a meeting that she did indeed call Reed and her husband, “the Mohawk parents”.

“She was screaming at him and referring to him as that as his name, and he’s a person,” said Reed.

Canfield’s child with special needs was assaulted by other children on March 11.

Documents showed that Schilthroat admitted that he stopped the video after a certain point so they couldn’t see Westfahl’s behavior.

“ They didn’t need to see her (MW) being unsympathetic to their son.  It was an embarrassment to the school and the department,” said Schilthroat.

Following that FOX 17 investigation, Canfield said she was shocked at that information that was uncovered and broke into tears.

“Yes, when I watched the news and I seen that, I bawled,” she said.

“I cannot believe that someone would keep that from me. It’s my child, I wanted answers,” said Canfield.

The minutes from that hearing seemed to show that other complaints from parents weren’t being reported either with no formal write-up.

When asked by administrators, “Why have employee discipline records not been forwarded to HR rather than kept at the Trans. Office?”

Schilthroat responded, “I have not disciplined many since I started….”

Westfahl was also questioned about the incident in which the child was assaulted.

During her interview, this was how she described it to the administrators who were questioning her.

“This is poor student management,” said Bill Melching. “ This stuff can not happen on our buses.”

Westfahl says that the child, “was the instigator with his mouth.”

Melching says, “that is not a right to hit someone.”

Superintendent Norm Taylor said, “There has been a FOIA request for this video from the Media.  Any layperson who sees this will see an uncontrolled bus.”

“There have been multiple comments on bus safety and ‘bullying’,” said Taylor.

Westfahl says, “and these are the Steeby to Baker shuttle kids, not my kids.”

Melching said, “There has to be better student management on the buses, I can’t believe all the buses are like this, and if some can be orderly, they all can.”

Also, the timeline in which Schilthroat reported the incident to the superintendent appeared to take a few days.

Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that the bus assault took place on March, 11.

March, 12 Schilthroat told administrators he learned of the assault.

On March, 14 Schilthroat said he reported it to Superintendent Norman Taylor.

However, upon further review of that interview, Taylor said he did receive and email on the incident earlier than March, 14.

“As a clarification,” said Taylor. “I forwarded the initial Canfield email to me on to Mr. Schilthroat on Wed., March 12; had an email exchange from Mr. Schilthroat on Thursday, March 13; and spoke to him by phone about the matter on Friday, March 14 – so we did communicate about this matter prior to March 14, 2014.”

As for whether Schilthroat’s contract should be renewed, board members say they can’t go into detail.

“The investigation with one person is ongoing and the other individual is in the middle of a decision, that’s where it’s at,” said Jeff Salisbury, Wayland Union School Board Trustee.

When asked if he would like to see Schilthroat step down, he said, “We aren’t given all of the information because there might come a point in the future where there might have to

come a hearing. So, the jury, the seven member jury so to speak, really can’t be prejudice in any way. So, some of that we are kept at arms length deliberately.”

A woman who works at Wayland Union Public Schools emailed FOX 17, saying she was in attendance of the meeting, asking us to interview those who support Schilthroat.

Vicki Sweet requested that we, “Interview staff members at Wayland who think very highly of Jeff Schildthroat.  All staff member at all levels.”

However, she declined our request for an interview.

She also did not speak during the public comment period at the meeting.

The only person who has openly spoken in public, on camera, in support of Schilthroat has been one of his employees, John Hyke.

He said that although he made a mistake, it would be a bigger mistake to let him go.

Superintendent Norm Taylor said during the school board meeting that any parents that felt that their bus complaints were not documented should submit them again through email.

He’s asking parents to email Bill Melching, Acting Transportation Supervisor, at:



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  • Dick Ernhardt

    I just read this story and was sickened by the cruelty of an innocent child being called Mohawk. What an awful thing to be called. I’ve never heard anything so horrible in my life. Mohawk, that has to be the meanest most hateful name to call a child I could possibly ever think of. Whoever called this poor child that should be sued and put in prison for life!! Why would anyone be so cruel and use such an offensive word as Mohawk, I’m losing sleep over the cruelty. Please, someone sue these people, make this cruelty stop, sue them!!!!! Get them fired or something!! Make them pay!!!! Call Fox News again!!!!’

    • Wildcat Proud

      I sense sarcasm here. Too funny… Fox News = dogs drooling and chasing after a juicy bone. Not seeing the other news stations jumping on this one FOR A REASON. Not happy how the media loves to give my almamater black-eyes at every turn.

  • Sondra D.

    Yes, it seems like they are whiny in this story, but I am sure this is not an isolated event. Those kids probably get picked on just about every day they ride, and the story said that most complaints were never recorded so it is not possible to know what the issues were. It is up to the bus driver to be the adult and to keep control of the kids. I have only called my bus district one time ever (about a driver dropping my son off in the wrong subdivision on his first day of school) and it was responded to and was properly documented. Good drivers keep the bus safe, without intimidation.

  • Terence Stamp

    A kid gets called Mohawk and that’s making the news now?! That’s not being whinny, that’s completely pathetic, just like these people trying to make this more than what it is. Their misbehaving kids on a bus getting into a fight. Wow!! We should be firing the bus drivers who let these hanus crimes happen on a school bus, and the transportation directors, and why stop there, dig deeper into this ridiculous story, there’s probably more people you could fire, sue, ruin….you could have a field day. Total waste of time!!!

  • Chris Yostin

    Move the parents to a different school district and guaranteed they have problems again. It’s not the schools problem, but to them it’s everyone else’s problem but their own. Probably looking for a quick lawsuit to collect, REAL classy.

  • Carrie Sontra

    I’m a mom and I’m also SHOCKED!!…at what a stupid story this is. Although, I’m not from wayland, must be some pretty simple folks over there to be shocked at this big hot steaming pile of a news story. Wonder how long they can drag this out for, their doing a good job so far.

  • Wayland Parent/school employee

    This story has been one sided this whole time! Fox 17 has made Jeff out to be this horrible person! I know Jeff and he is the most kind and caring man I have ever had the privilege to know and work for! These parents are upset about bulling on the bus and I don’t think bulling is right but to me that is what they are doing to Jeff! Let’s get down to the basics Jeff did not bully that kid it was the other kids and they and their parents should be the ones being held responsible not Jeff!

    • Wildcat Proud

      Nice guys finish last…Jeff probably should have been writing up this driver in the past. Jeff probably should not have tried to handle this one on his own. His heart was in the right place BUT it blew up in his face. Now things are being twisted and blown out of porportion.
      Bullies fight dirty by intimidation…Neither these parents, nor Fox17, took this through the proper channels. If they didn't like Jeff's handling of things, then go to his boss>the Superintendent. If you do not like Norm's handling of things, then go to his boss>the school board (BOE). By the way he has seven of them. NOWHERE BEFORE THESE avenues do you call the media! UNLESS you want to intimidate people to give you what you want! Now THAT (adult bullying) is pathetic.

  • Maury Povich

    Hi there wayland families who are calling Fox News!:). We are always looking for really stupid stories to have on our show. Yours is by far one of the dumbest stories we’ve heard about in quite some time. We would love to have all the complaining parents on our show to discuss bullying and Mohawks and any other ridiculous things you can think of. Our producer will be contacting Jennifer dowling to get in contact with anyone willing to participate. Good luck in all your lawsuits and keep up the great comedy entertainment.

  • Parent of ZERO TOLLERANCE!

    I will continue to support my friends, because we know the truth..bullying a parent for defending there child..bravo..
    Way to go..good example of people bulling others no matter the age..and yet we wonder where our children are getting this from.

  • Your funny zero tolerance:()

    And what truth is that? That these people blame everyone else for their problems and don’t know how to raise their kids? Then instead of dealing with a problem like a normal thinking person, you call a news organization? Looks like their decisions have really made a BIG difference for the community. Any normal thinking person knows this whole thing is a joke, wake up parent of zero tolerance.

  • Danny Mcgrath NIB high class of 84

    Thanks to FOX 17 and all of this bully talk. The guy who bullied me in high school just called and apologized. It sounds like it’s time for some Telephone Line by the Electric Light Orchestra.

  • Parent of ZERO TOLLERANCE!

    So it’s a joke that a child was assaulted?
    Seeing how your an “normal thinking parent”..what would you have done?

  • Benjamin Dover

    I had that same driver when I was a senior back in the early eighties. She called me "mullet" and I have been in counseling ever since.

  • Your funny zero tolerance:()

    We all know what the story is about. A kid getting beat up on a bus after starting a fight, but the parents think their kid did nothing wrong, bus driver yells at kid, parents want to see video of fight, see that but them find out there’s more video of bus driver yelling at kid…then calling Fox News to make it into a huge bullying issue and cover up story. That’s pretty much it, like everyone said, pathetic joke waste of time. Anything else zero tolerance?

  • Happyparentsofmiddlevillechildren

    Wow!! The pathetic-ness of this story just confirms that the decision we made to send our children to Thornapple Kellogg was the right desision. I mean come on, are the parents paying the news so they can get their 15 minutes of fame?! Unbelievable!

    • Shame on them

      I feel they know exactly what they say…Calling in the media before going through the "chain of command", is adult bullying! Maybe that is why "bully-free lessons" are falling on the deaf ears of the children! Have some pride in yourself, and your school district. Work together (in private) to find answers AND KEEP THE MEDIA OUT OF IT (stop airing dirty laundry)!

  • Zero tolerance is a joke

    If my child was assaulted on a bus, I would watch the video of the so called assault and go from there. When I saw my kid starting a fight and getting beat up, I would go home and talk to my kid and tell him to stop starting fights on busses and in school, fairly simple. I wouldn’t be calling the news trying to get people fired and hoping to cash in on a lawsuit. That’s sick!!!

  • My son is called Mohawk too!

    OMGOODNESS my son was watching the news last night and couldn’t figure out why being called “Mohawk” was considered a bad thing…….. My son has been known as Mohawk since he was 4 years old. Now this is considered an insult?! Why are people so easily offended in this world we live in?! Get over yourselves people and teach your kids to stick up for themselves, teach your kids to not go crying to momma when somebody insults them, teach your kids that we do not get what we want just by threatening a law suit, teach your kids to love and forgive and we will all be better off!

    • calm down

      Voicing ones opionion that may not be the same as yours or you do not approve of…IS NOT BULLYING. There were no threats made here, just a differant way to teach kids. Your not a joke "Parent of ZERO TOLLERANCE"…just INTOLERANT of others.

      • Really?.?.?

        WOW! Are you crying now Parent of ZERO TOLLERANCE. Maybe fox 17 can cover your bullying story so you feel better. Can't believe that this word (bully) is so over used. People need to get over this crap. What gives you the right to strongly voice you thoughts and opinions,but when someone else does you cry bullying? See my point everyone has a right to their opinions whether you agree with it or not. Making someone see it your way is being a bully to them, so your just as much to blame.

  • J.B.

    it is a sad day when people who don’t even know the whole TRUE story defend adults who lied and hid the truth!,adults who are in a position of authority who lied to cover their own butts instead of telling the truth and protecting these children.. adults who when they were finally confronted by the video which btw showed even that adult abusing the child are now on an administrative (vacation) instead of terminated!!!maybe some of you on here think this is a joke, maybe because your child has not suffered because of them you make fun of those who have, however this story isn’t just about one incident, there are multiple situations.. just because it hasn’t affected you yet doesn’t mean it won’t ever! glad that a parent is standing up for what is right no matter the people who do not understand or know the whole story, i can tell you this the video showed no action to cause a fight by the boy who was bullied and beaten so might be best not to comment unless you know the facts.. hope none of you who have joked, made fun of or said this is stupid ever have to go through this with your child…and maybe just maybe this parent who is facing this is stopping another columbine high situation from happening to your child!!!


    Judging by the way you have misspelled tolerance I am assuming you are probably a child who has nothing better to do than to get on these chats and disagree with well educated people who are making some very valid points. But if that’s what you do for cheap entertainment, then keep them coming:-) There could certainly be worse things you could be doing…..

  • Wayland mom :(

    Well from a mom with 4 kids in Wayland and 3 ride "the bus" I am glad to see the driver gone, she was not a good person to be driving a bus. I had several run in's with her and for her to talk the way she did and drive the way she did was uncalled for. My neighbor, that has kids that go to middleville, said she wouldn't let her kids on that bus. I am not meaning to sound like I am whining, but I have never been in a worse school system then Wayland. My kids have been to Plainwell and Allegan and both are way better then Wayland. Wish we never moved 2 Wayland. No one can judge but God.

    • Pleased parent.

      I have to say that I have nothing but good things to say about this driver. She has been our driver for the past 6 years and on numerous occasions has went out of the way for our family. She is very good at keeping the pick- up and drop off times consistent, and have never felt my children were harmed by her physically or verbally. My knowledge of her driving and capability of handling a vehicle 50 foot long filled with 70 unruly students in any weather condition is very positive. I would rather see her behind the wheel over some of the other drivers that look like they should of retired years ago.

      Maybe if you feel that strongly against her you should of transferred you kids to TK 6 years ago when she took that route. Seeing you live right on the line of TK and wayland, wouldn't take much to get your kids to the TK bus at GLCC.

  • Allegan Co resident

    First, I think we need to look at the times we live in. It is sadly not the same world we as parents grew up in. Everything must be taken seriously. Especially bullying. we have children and adults alike committing heinous crimes due to it. Second, this seems like a situation where the evidence needs to speak for itself. We have not seen the video of the incident in question here. I for one would like to see that before I give an opinion on "should they or should they not fire the driver. Third, I do think that the driver needs to take some classes on how to be in better control of himself and his choice of words as well as the students on his bus. Fourth, parents think about what you allow your children to wear and look like. If it is going to ostracize them and set them up as a target amongst their peers please prepare them for that at the very least. You after all are the adults. You have the responsibility to make the final determination of what is in the best interest of your children. You also have the responsibility to follow up on anything that happens to them anywhere and make sure that the proper procedures have been followed. Do you really think that any school system is going to do anything that could in any way make them look responsible for any wrong doing? Not likely. I am not choosing sides just laying it all out there as I see it. It is time for all parties to take off the rose colored glasses and get real. Fix the problem don't hide it or hide from it. that's my nickels worth. The horse is already out of the gate on this one folks. Its now down to how many winners there will be at the end of the race.

  • T.C.

    As a parent of two kids in wayland school I have also had problems with this bus driver and Jeff. I’m sorry that some people think this is a joke because it’s not.

    Thank god there are still some good parents out there who will speak up and defend children being bullied

  • Alli P

    If by complaints they mean “she called me buzz cut” I’m afraid this doesn’t help the legitimacy of this entire story told by Fox 17 News. You can use the words “shocked” to get attention but when it’s followed by “she called me Mohawk” it turns this whole story into a laughing matter.

  • From another bus garage

    Wow, if Jeff gets fired they are gonna have a tough time finding anyone who would want to work with this district. I pity the fool that actually accepts this position.

  • Caledonia rocks

    I would love to hear some of the problems that the transportation director is giving parents. Not taking your kid being called Mohawk serious enough? I wonder why, maybe because that is one of the most ridiculous complaints ever said. I laughed for 2 straight hours when I read that. Pure comedy gold, like the rest of the complaints the soft headed parents are whining about. Caledonia must have a lot higher class people then wayland:)

  • Comment boy

    Lord forgive them for they know not what they say?! So far that is number 1 in stupidest comment on this thread. Keep them coming, a lot of spectators watching.

  • From another bus garage

    My heart goes out to the boy who was bullied and any other children who are mercilessly bullied. I don’t have a problem with parents sticking up for their children, they would be crazy not to. What I do have a problem with is how this whole story was handled. It’s such a shame that this one incident has really given Wayland a bad reputation. I have had nothing but great experiences with Jeff and our bus driver. What’s sad is that a news station can take one bad incident and turn it into a firestorm. The news hasn’t helped anyone, including the parents. They have in fact made our district seem so undesirable I’m not sure it can be redeemed. At least not in the publics eye that is. Filming parents being overly dramatic isn’t the way to deal with a situation like this. Its too bad the news was involved at all. It’s a shame how much damage a small handful of people can really do.

  • From another bus garage

    Ok one more comment and then I’m off to bed. This just really has gotten me all fired up! Working at a bus garage myself I know the pressures and stresses that go hand in hand with a job like this. So often a mistake is made and all the good is forgotten and people so readily point fingers, place blame and instantly want someone to pay. Its too bad but this seems to be the way the world works. How often we forget to thank the people who are doing a good job. I know we are appreciative for all the good things we have seen at the Wayland bus garage and maybe instead of bringing out the worst in people this incident will hopefully remind us to thank those who are taking care of our children! For the bus driver who cares for your child show some appreciation for them! Write a card saying thank you or even make some cookies. Just my two cents. Ok enough said.

  • Please more news stories

    I hope fox will do a sitcom soon on wayland bus garage. Seems like there’s tons of material to use. If they can get this many news stories out of what little has been reported, a whole tv show seems like the next step. Then the parents could really cash in!!!’ $$$$$$$$$$$