Parents say students were kicked off school bus, told to walk home
JASPER CO., SC (WTOC) -
Jasper County parents say their kids were kicked off the bus by the driver and told to walk home.
"She said I don't know how I'm going to take you all home. Get the f off my bus," said seventh grader, Darren King.
King says he and the 39 other students got off the bus and walked home. Some of them had to walk nearly four miles to get home.
According to King, this all happened because some of his classmates were on the bus lighting matches, and throwing paper and pencils at the driver.
Pamela Battiste was on her way home when she drove by her son and a group of other kids walking over the bridge down the street from her house. She said she was angry with him because he's not supposed to be playing on the bridge. Her anger grew once she found out why he was walking.
"They [the school] should have called us or the police and have our kids escorted or called someone to make sure they were picked up," she said.
The driver admitted to cursing at the students, but the district said she did not kick them off the bus. They say she drove to the district office and went in to get help. That's when the students chose to walk home.
Darryl Owens, chief of operations for the Jasper County School District, said the driver did what she was supposed to do.
"Our priority is getting the children home safely," he said. "Had the children remained on the bus, they would have safely gotten home. But when you have children that are exiting the bus through the emergency doors and all of the exits on the bus, and walking down the streets, we don't have someone that's going to go gather everyone that's going to voluntarily runs off of a bus."
But parent want to know why the district didn't call them and let them know what happened.
"The district is responsible for our kids," said Toni King, Darren King's mother. "If our kids got off the bus, why didn't they contact us and tell us?"
WTOC asked that question. The district said they cannot comment on that at this time, but they did say the students on that particular bus have caused trouble all year.
"It is this route, it is not the driver," said Owens.
There have been several suspensions and conferences with parents because of students behavior, according to Owens.
Superintendent Vashti Washington wasn't made aware of the issue until WTOC asked her about it Thursday.
She and Owens met with parents after WTOC brought it to her attention. She told parents that she didn't agree with the way the driver handled the issue, and she will be addressing it with the driver. She didn't say what, if any, punishment the driver would face.