News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Feb. 3, 2012
HARLEM, Ga. -- Several concerned parents contacted the newsroom, upset about a bus driver allegedly threatening students, stopping the bus mid-route and taking the kids back to the school.
As of Friday morning, this case was closed because deputies
found no criminal intent.
But as of Friday afternoon, deputies re-opened the case after finding new evidence about possible misconduct of the driver.
To see our initial report from Thursday, click here.
Charles Nagle, the Columbia County school superintendent, says this bus has been a problem all year.
"We have had three or four drivers on this bus this year," Nagle said. "The children who are riding this bus have been misbehaving on this bus."
And Euchee Creek Elementary has even had teachers and school administrators periodically ride the bus to monitor the kids' behavior.
But parents say their children's behavior is not an excuse for how their kids say the bus driver reacted.
Gina Taylor is the mother of 7-year-old Chase Taylor, a Euchee Creek Elementary student on this bus route.
"Children are going to fight, they're going to argue, but he's the adult, and he needs to handle the situation like an adult. Not act like a kid or threaten them," she said.
And officials agree the situation needs to be addressed.
"We've had some concerns here. At this point, we're not trying to excuse anything that took place," Nagle said. "We're going to investigate. I can assure the community that that driver won't be back on that bus."
But without cameras on the bus or other adults as witnesses, it's going to be up to the Sheriff's Office to find the truth.
The school has been taking statements from the nearly 50 students who were on that bus, and Euchee Creek Elementary Principal Katy Yeargin says they're hearing "all kinds of different stories."
Stories ranging from the bus driver threatening to kill the kids to slamming on the brakes, pulling into a ditch and injuring a few children.
The driver ended up taking the kids back to the school.
"When I came in, there were children, two that had ice packs on their head, some of the younger ones were upset," Yeargin said.
And Taylor says her daughter was terrified.
"She wasn't just kind of upset, she was trembling. I mean, I've never seen her like that before," she said.
The driver claims he slammed on the brakes because a child threw a jacket over his head.
"I have heard that, it has not been corroborated, so I'm not certain," Yeargin said.
But investigators are still trying to find out exactly what happened.
"There is some concern; we're going to take a close look at it, and then we can make a determination what, if any, charges could be filed," said Capt. Steve Morris with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
The driver involved in the allegations is a substitute driver and is not driving on any bus routes until the investigation is closed.
Yeargin says he will not be driving at Euchee Creek Elementary again.
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