Education

Bus driver suspended following West Ada bus mishap

A West Ada School District bus driver has been suspended pending an investigation after his bus of misbehaving kids came to a hard stop in traffic — resulting, parents say, in a second-grade girl suffering a concussion.

Cascade Student Transportation, which contracts with the district to take students to and from school, is looking into the incident, said Eric Exline, district spokesman. Exline said said he did not know the driver’s name.

Parents said they had concerns that the driver slammed on the brakes on purpose due to unruly kids, but West Ada School District officials examining surveillance video on Friday attributed the abrupt stop to his becoming momentarily distracted by the students.

James Woodard and Ami Bryant, the parents of second-grader Juliet Woodard, said children got off the bus crying Wednesday. Bryant said the next day, she pulled her daughter from school and took her to the doctor where she was diagnosed with a concussion.

The parents told KBOI-TV that their kids told them the driver ordered the children to sit down and be quiet before slamming on the brakes.

"Everyone kind of flew forward because there's no seatbelts on the bus," said Juliet Woodard.

Exline said the bus was taking students in grades kindergarten through 5th grade home Wednesday from Ustick Elementary School in Boise. He didn't know how many students were on the bus.

Exline said the bus, equipped with a front-facing camera and another that looked into the interior, had "a fair amount of misbehavior going on."

He said the cameras, that also record audio, show the driver look up into his mirror at the kids in the bus as he approached an intersection. Exline said there was a fight going on and one student used inappropriate language. He said the driver in a firm tone told students to sit down and be quiet. Exline said the driver then looks back down and applies the brakes in a "harder than normal braking action" causing "the kids to move in their seats."

The front-facing camera, Exline said, shows a vehicle starting to move forward at the intersection.

Exline said the driver hit the brakes harder than he intended to avoid a collision, and not due to anger with misbehaving kids.

Exline said the bus driver has been interviewed by the bus company, Cascade Student Transportation. The company didn't return a call from The Associated Press on Friday.

Statesman reporter Bill Roberts contributed

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