Parents are asking Orange County Public Schools to take a closer look at student safety after a school bus was evacuated when pepper spray was deployed on elementary school students.
- Pepper spray deployed on Orange elementary school bus
- 7 students affected and treated, fire officials said
- No one was hospitalized, per Orange County Fire
A bus transporting about 50 students to Independence Elementary made an emergency stop Tuesday morning after pepper spray injured some students on board.
Deputies said a 7-year-old student was given the pepper spray by a parent for self-defense, but another student deployed it, affecting multiple students.
Parents were notified about the incident. Upon hearing her child was involved, Stacie Archer raced to the scene.
"You sit there and you think, 'Not my child.' But I also think it shouldn't be anybody's child," Archer said.
At the sight of fire trucks surrounding her son Luke's school bus, Archer thought the worst had happened.
"We send our kids off to school in the morning and hope that they feel safe and they come home,” she said.
None of the elementary school kids were seriously hurt. Several were treated at the scene and released to the custody of their parents or guardians. Those unaffected by the spray, like Archer's son, continued to school on a different bus.
Archer said she was grateful that's all it was but wonders why parents sent a student with pepper spray in the first place.
"Is this just the reaction we are seeing in this day and time, where parents are just very concerned for the safety of our kids?" Archer said.
The school district considers bringing pepper spray onto school property a "level IV infraction," which is the most serious. The student involved faces suspension or explusion.
However, Archer said reacting to the child's action isn't the way to go.
Following the high school shooting in Parkland, Archer and other local moms in Winter Garden started the Parents 4 Safer School group and they are petitioning the school district to take the state dollars recently granted for school safety and use them for training, installing new safety measures, and bulletproof doors and windows.
"Our goal with this group is to say here are some immediate, well-researched things that we feel we need to get in our schools right away," Archer said.
Archer and the other parents wanted to speak during Tuesday's school board meeting to ask school officials to listen to their request. However, school officials they need to wait until state funding and addressing safety concerns are up for discussion.