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September 23, 2010

Dad who confronted bus bullies to speak at NAPT

At the upcoming NAPT conference in Portland, Ore., James Jones will participate in a panel discussion about bullying. After his 12-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy was harassed, Jones stormed her school bus.
Photo courtesy Travel Portland

SANFORD, Fla. — The man who stormed a school bus here earlier this month to confront his daughter’s bullies will speak at the upcoming National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Summit.

NAPT invited James Jones to participate in a panel discussion on bullying on Nov. 1 during its conference in Portland, Ore.

After his 12-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy was harassed, Jones boarded her bus on Sept. 3. Video footage (see below) shows him threatening bus passengers and the driver.

Jones has been charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing a school function.

The incident drew widespread media coverage, and Jones apologized for his actions in a press conference.

“We are pleased that Mr. Jones accepted our invitation to meet with our industry and look forward to his insights,” NAPT Executive Director Mike Martin said. “The incident involving his daughter captured national attention, and we hope this experience can be channeled into a productive discussion about how we can prevent bullying and, when it occurs, deal with it more effectively.”

At the Tuesday news conference, the girl's mother, Deborah McFadden-Jones, said that their daughter's cerebral palsy is not noticeable. She was picked on because she stood up for another girl, her mother said.

"She was helping someone else, and it turned on her, and there was no one there to help her out," McFadden-Jones said.

James Jones said at the news conference that their daughter had been teased, spit on, poked and pushed, and she had an emotional breakdown. 

In addition to inviting Jones to participate in the panel discussion, NAPT issued a white paper with parental action steps for dealing with bullying. The paper offers suggestions for how to get action promptly but responsibly. The association urges parents to focus emotions into constructive action by first getting all the facts about the incident, collecting thoughts and then being persistent in respectfully demanding a response.

“We all know that because of legal liability concerns and bureaucracy, getting action is not always easy and can be frustrating. But the answer can’t be to board a school bus and threaten children,” Martin said. “The flip side is that school systems need to take bullying complaints seriously and respond quickly and effectively.”

To access the white paper, click here.

For more information on the NAPT conference, go to www.naptonline.org.