Charges filed in taped bus beating

Posted on March 1, 2004

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Six students were arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery following a videotaped incident in which they pummeled another student on a school bus, authorities said.

Footage from the bus security camera shows several 14- and 15-year-old students gathering around a 12-year-old boy seated in the front row of the bus and punching him repeatedly. The bus driver can then be seen ushering the students back to their seat.

A spokesperson for bus contractor First Student said the driver pulled the bus over within 40 seconds. The driver was placed on administrative leave while the company determines whether he followed proper procedures.

Following the incident, Duval County Public Schools Superintendent John Fryer said he would look into changing some bus policies, including that which prohibits drivers from touching students while disciplining them.

Fryer also said that he wants cameras and recorders on all the district's 1,000 buses. Those already outfitted with recording equipment use REI's BUS-WATCH systems.

Fryer said money from the state's Safe Schools grant would fund purchasing the additional cameras for the district's buses.

Authorities are still seeking one more student involved in the incident. The youths have been suspended from school and face possible sentences ranging from probation to 120 days in a juvenile detention facility.

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