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December 13, 2012  |   Comments (4)   |   Post a comment

Bus driver fired, charged over toy gun flap

By Thomas McMahon


HARRISBURG, Pa. — A school bus driver has been fired and charged with disorderly conduct for an incident involving a toy gun, authorities said.

School and police officials held a news conference over the incident, which happened Monday on a bus transporting technical high school students. The driver had a toy gun and, when a student asked about it, reportedly said that it was for the "bad kids."

CBS 21 reported that a police lieutenant said the bus driver was apparently joking around with the obviously fake gun. However, when word spread on the bus, it turned into something more serious.

School officials said in a statement that students contacted authorities with their cell phones.

"Susquehanna Township police and district personnel met the bus and removed the driver," school officials said. "An alternate driver completed the departure route."

Susan Kegerise, superintendent of Susquehanna Township School District, said in the news conference that the students "were calm. ... They absolutely alerted authorities right away — whether it was real or whether it was not. So I'm absolutely proud of them and think they conducted themselves in a very mature and responsive manner."

In a different assessment, a student who was riding the bus told ABC 27 that "kids were screaming, texting, calling their parents, calling the police."

School officials said that the driver has been terminated by Rohrer Bus Co.

The Patriot News interviewed the driver, Ronald W. Jones, who said that he regularly played games — Spider-Man and Iron Man, for example — with his fellow bus drivers' preschoolers who rode the buses with them, which is why he had brought the toy gun. He admitted that he shouldn't have brought it on the bus, but he said that he was shocked and humiliated by the response, which included police frisking him.

Jones, a 73-year-old great-grandfather, told The Patriot News that the student who asked about the toy gun and to whom he made the joke was someone he had previously written up for misbehavior. "If she thought that gun was real," he told the news source, "she wouldn’t have gotten on the bus."

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Read more about: law enforcement, Pennsylvania

It's more what the driver said that raises a yellow flag. The type of object doesn't really make a difference, but it sounded like a threat, even if it was in jest. Especially on a noisy bus, someone towards the back may have only heard every other word and saw what looked like a weapon. I probably would have done something about it, and now with the updated security procedures today, that driver would be challenged immediately.

Alexander Rogge    |    Dec 14, 2012 07:30 PM

He should have never brought a play gun on the bus. We do not allow our preschoolers to bring toy guns or play like they have guns on the bus in the school or playground. He should have known better. Real or Fake it doesn't matter. Here in Ohio we are not permitted to do this so if it was one our drivers the same would have happened.

Debbie    |    Dec 14, 2012 08:02 AM

If only the bureaucrats would act this fast when a child is tearing up the bus and hurting people in a rampage. Instead, they may blame the driver for complaining. I guess the misbehaving child wins again.

Alexander Rogge    |    Dec 13, 2012 04:27 PM

once again a huge over reaction by management, screw the driver, cowtow to the parents and media. too bad management isn't under the same scrutiny that drivers are, sort of a do as i say, not as i do.

paul    |    Dec 13, 2012 03:38 PM

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