‘I don’t care if I hurt you,’ Emmett school bus driver says as she tries to remove student
Emmett police are investigating allegations by the parents of a 9-year-old student with disabilities that a school bus driver verbally and physically abused the boy during a confrontation on a bus on April 12.
"It's an ongoing investigation, and there hasn't been any determination on charges," Emmett Police Chief Steve Kunka said.
Jennifer Harvey, the boy's mother, said she didn't file a police report about the incident until a week later, after school district officials allowed her to view video camera footage from the bus. She feels district officials should have notified police immediately after they reviewed it.
"Why did no one report this?" she said.
She said the video shows the bus driver screaming at her son to change seats, then lifting him out of the seat by grabbing his backpack and sweatshirt.
"In the process, he fell down. After he fell, she continued to try to rip (the backpack) off him," Harvey said. "He curled up on his knees. She continued to try to pull him up from the ground."
The Statesman filed a public record request to obtain the school bus video. The district denied the request Tuesday, saying releasing it would be a violation of state and federal privacy laws because the video is part of a school district personnel file and contains information from student records.
Emmett Superintendent Wayne Rush told the Statesman that the bus driver involved in the incident no longer works for the district. She resigned a couple days later, he said. He did not disclose her name, but did say she'd been a bus driver or the district for many years.
"I think she should have been fired," Harvey said. "To me, as a parent, any human being who would have seen this video would have said, 'Wow, this person, this is an immediate termination.'"
Rush said he's been in close communication with police since the incident. Kunka said he first heard about it from Harvey, and he got in contact with school officials.
Harvey said the day of the incident she was called down to Shadow Butte Elementary to pick up her son, a third-grader. He was agitated and screaming: "I hate her, I hate her, I hate her, and I never want to see her again." The boy has some disabilities, including sensory perception disorder, and he has an aide. When he acts out, he usually shut downs and becomes non-verbal, his mother said.
She said the bus driver called her later to say that her son had used a profane word to address her, was removed from the bus and would be banned from riding for the rest of the year.
Harvey said the incident traumatized her son, emotionally and physically. He complained of chest pain afterward, and physicians who assessed him afterward said he had bruised ribs, Harvey said.
"We're disappointed as parents. He was 100 percent assaulted," she said. "Our biggest issue has been how it's been handled. It was kind of swept under the rug."
Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413