A dozen Alexandria school bus drivers protested to the city School Board last night a recent order forbidding them to give gifts to the children who ride with them.

"As far as I was concerned, it was an insult to all the bus drivers and bus monitors," said Becky Sacra, president of Local 3059 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, to which most of the bus drivers and bus monitors in the city belong. "If we can't give out gifts, stickers, pencils, papers, then no one in the school system should."

The directive, contained in a memorandum from John D. Johnson, supervisor of business services and transportation, was issued last month after a driver was suspended for three days for giving $5 to a 10-year-old girl who regularly kept order on the driver's bus.

The driver subsequently was exonerated of misconduct.

Johnson's memo stressed the importance of good relations with students, but said that "unfortunately, because of the antisocial behavior of some adults , everyone in the community is suspicious of certain actions involving adults and children."

School board members asked that Superintendent Robert W. Peebles meet with Johnson to discuss the matter. Board member Lou Cook was sympathetic to the bus drivers' concerns, but added, "In today's climate it just gets misinterpreted."