FARMINGTON, Utah — A school district here is settling a lawsuit in the amount of $62,500 after a student was caught by his backpack in the bus's door and dragged, in what the boy's mother said was a racially-motivated incident.
In May, Brenda Mayes, the mother of the boy, sued Davis School District, according to USA Today. She alleged that the bus driver, John Naisbitt, 78, purposely closed the bus door on the backpack of her son, who is biracial, as he was getting off the bus. Surveillance video of the incident, which occurred on Feb. 4, shows several students deboarding before Naisbitt apparently closes the door behind the boy believed to be Mayes’ son, USA Today reports. The boy’s backpack straps were caught in the door before the bus drove approximately 150 to 175 feet. The boy, who was pinned to the outside of the door, was not injured in the incident, according to the news source.
Mayes alleged that school district officials didn’t address Naisbitt’s history of racial discrimination, harassment, and bullying of her son and other minority students, USA Today reports. She accused Naisbitt of racially-charged misconduct against students since September 2017, citing examples such as closing the bus door on two other biracial boys, calling students “stupid” and “idiots,” and not stopping a white student from assaulting a younger Asian student, according to KSTU.
Naisbitt, who told KSTU that he retired three days after the incident occurred to avoid being fired over it, said that he is not racist and mentioned the color of his dog as proof. He also told the news source that eight buses were lined up behind his bus when he warned the students he was pulling the bus forward, and that the incident was staged after he disciplined the boy’s brother. He added that he didn’t see the boy, and if he had, he would have stopped.
Shauna Lund, a spokesperson for Davis School District, said in a statement to USA Today that district officials “take these matters very seriously and do everything we can to protect students.”