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Gene Kennedy Reporting A school bus driver is on paid leave after screaming at several junior high students. Today, the kids and their parents confronted the Granite School District about it.
The parents feel the meeting with the superintendent went well. The students got to voice their concern. The superintendent personally apologized to them. The district also will send a written apology in the mail, and in a week it will take action against the bus driver.
I don't think he should work with children ever again, ever," parent Kellie Hale said. She wants the South Salt Lake City bus driver to be fired for yelling at a bus full of kids.
It all started last week. The driver was taking kids home from Bonneville Junior High. The bus had mechanical problems, so the driver went back to the school.
On the way, the students say he lost his temper. One girl recorded it on her cell phone.
In the recording the bus driver can be heard saying, "I've had enough of you people. You're out of line, no good, no good! …They are just the worst kids."
Then this conversation between the driver and a student: Student: "You don't have the right to call us garbage!" Driver: "Shut up! Shut up!" Student: "I didn't do anything!" Driver: "I don't want to hear anymore out of you!"
Hale says she is disgusted with what is said on the recording. "There are no words for it. I believe it was totally uncalled for," she said.
"My personal impression of the audio was that the tone of voice was out of control. We're disturbed by the tone of voice in the audio. We're disturbed by the reports that we received that racial epithets," said Granite District spokesman Randy Ripplinger.
When parents and students met with the school district today, they told the superintendent that the bus driver didn't just yell at them but made a racial remark, too. "He called them ‘brown garbage,' ‘brown trash.' ... That's based on what everyone on the bus heard," parent Sam Pacheco said.
Seventh-grader Bronson Renteria, who was on the bus at the time of the incident, said, "I said he didn't have the right to call us garbage, and he said he did because it's his bus."
"We talked to the employee last week," Ripplinger explained. "There's never been any contest about whether or not there were racial tones made and disparaging remarks made about the students. Those things were always on the table, and we understood them, and we will not tolerate them."
The school district will wrap up its investigation next week and at that point will decide on how to discipline the bus driver. There are several options, including firing him.
Whatever the end result, that cell phone recording has already been key in determining what happens next for the driver.