Belleville bars school bus driver after brutal bus attack

Excerpt from The
Belleville, Illinois — The driver who was behind the wheel of a school bus when a 17-year-old Belleville West High School student was beaten will no longer work within the school district.

“After review of the driver’s actions during this event, it has been determined that this driver will no longer transport District 201 students,” said Belleville High School District Superintendent Greg Moats, in a letter to parents and others in the district Wednesday.

But Moats did not specifically accuse the driver of any wrongdoing, or specify how he may have handled the situation differently. “I don’t know the gentleman; I don’t know what he was thinking,” he said in an interview.

A video of the incident, which shows students cheering as the 17-year-old is beaten by two students in a six-minute period, drew national attention. At first, the Belleville Police Department said the incident was racially motivated. The victim is white and the assailants are black. But police later attributed the incident to bullying.

Critics have questioned why the driver did not stop the bus as soon as the beating began. But busing industry officials and the driver’s employer, First Student, have said the driver followed protocol by radioing the incident and arranging for a nurse to meet the bus at the school. The driver has been suspended by the company as an investigation continues.

The superintendent’s letter said that students involved in the incident had been suspended, but that only the school board may expel them and that any board action must come within 10 days of an incident. The district’s next school board meeting is Monday, the soonest the matter could be addressed, Moats said. Full story.

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