UPDATE: A St. Johns County school bus caught fire on the road according to local news reports. It was carrying 25 students.
PINAC Reporter Jeff Gray conducted a weeklong school bus safety investigation in his hometown of St. Augustine, Florida.
His public records research revealed school bus drivers lying about mandatory pre-trip safety inspections, which he recorded them skipping.
Now, St. Johns Sheriff’s are threatening to arrest Gray, and illegally demanding he stop recording their actions on a regular basis as you can see in the video below.
Because you see, Florida’s St. Johns Schools Superintendent Joseph Joyner is suing him since, “the day after the San Bernardino shootings, Mr. Gray was seen by school officials acting in a suspicious and provocative manner, cruising in his van slowly back and forth past two schools,” said St Johns School Board General Counsel Frank Upchurch III.
During Gray’s investigation, he probably made sure to strictly obey local speed limits. St. Johns County, like most schools creates school speed zones, where 15 mph speed limits protecting students are coupled with increased speeding fines.
But St. Johns school district officials feel very unsafe that Jeff Gray obeyed the school zone speed limits.
Gray holds a commercial driver’s license and has a day job driving trucks.
He always follows speed limits.
Last week, the St. Johns School Board sued Gray in an open act of censorship of the reporter’s First Amendment rights.
Their suit asks Gray to remove all YouTube videos from his popular HonorYourOath channel.
“We expect to defend the School Board’s lawsuit vigorously,” says Gray’s defense lawyer Lesley McKinney, “the School Superintendent does not have the power to unilaterally revoke the Constitutional rights of any citizen.”
Our public records research indicates that they’ve spent $1500 on the action already, plus used more than a day of time from their General Counsel Upchurch as you can see below.
Superintendent Joyner also sent Gray 38 censorship letters by certified mail last week.
They all seek to impose prior restraint on Gray’s reporting activities.
Gray recorded a St. Johns deputy verbally attempting to order Jeff Gray not to record them while he waited to pick up his son from school, as you can see below.
School Board lawyer Upchurch told PINAC News that, “On December 4, Mr. Gray harassed bus drivers for records at a school, just as he had done at the Maintenance Department in the case he filed and lost.”
That’s factually incorrect.
Gray had previously filed suit against the School Board for public records, but in the beginning of December voluntarily dismissed that action. No decision was reached by a judge on the merits of the case. However, the School Board seems to be emboldened by not losing that case, responding by filing a First Amendment crushing civil lawsuit.
“We defeated the School Board’s motion to dismiss that case, but decided not to proceed for legal reasons,” said Gray.
According to Gray, the bus drivers retain their own logs for 30 day periods until they’re turned into supervisors, so bus drivers are actual custodians of those records for a considerable period of time.
School Bus Accidents Kill Many Drivers in Other Vehicles
Before you think school bus safety’s unimportant because you don’t have children or they’re not on the bus or you’re not riding the bus yourself.
School bus traffic accidents kill twice as many drivers in other vehicles, and kill twice as many students who’re pedestrians as they do children riding on busses.
In fact, school bus accidents are carefully tracked, and from 2003-2012 three times as many people died by school bus accident than all acts of terrorism since September 11th, 2001 until present.
PINAC’s reporter pursued the photograph from a single page public record – a bus maintenance log – from a school bus driver whom he’d earlier filmed skipping a required pre-trip safety inspection.
The bus driver collided with a parked car after skipping the inspection too. (see video below)
Initially, the St. Johns bus driver cooperated and delivered the record to Gray, but later demanded identification and wouldn’t permit him to capture an image of the document as drafted at that time.
Sure enough, Gray’s public records request through the School Board’s Community Relations District returned with the log filled in – fraudulently. (seen down below, under the video)
We don’t know if the driver made a fake log before or after encountering Gray, but regulations say that the log is to be marked before the trip commences since it is a PRE-TRIP inspection requirement, not an anytime requirement.
Reasonably, one cannot know much more about the public employee bus driver’s behavior beyond his own record keeping.
It would appear that driver used his denial of Gray’s records request – to photograph the record – to falsify its results as you can see below.
“The only way to truly know what the government does at taxpayer expense, we need access to original records, where they are stored and in their original format,” Gray told PINAC News, “any hoops that are erected, gives public entities time to fabricate their results.”
However, we can reasonably conclude in the nine years reported by the DOT, more individuals, including students, pedestrians and other drivers have perished at the hands of school busses, than at the hands of islamic terrorists and homegrown terrorists combined.
We are unable to find any reports of school bus safety investigations causing death.
Ed. Note: You can reach Joseph G. Joyner Ed. D. Phone: firstname.lastname@example.orgE-Mail:
Gray’s Recording Of Bus Drivers Which Spurred St. Johns County School Board to File Suit:
The records showing bus 94 which got into a collision after skipping the pre-trip inspection:
Ed. Note: This story has been updated to show the St. Johns school bus which caught fire earlier today in the cover image.