GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Authorities faulted students, rather than the driver, for a school bus incident here that reportedly sparked misleading accounts on social media.
The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office and paramedics responded to the incident on June 5 at 2:44 p.m. The bus was parked on a road, and the elementary students who were on board had unloaded.
The Sheriff’s Office said children alleged that the school bus driver, a substitute, had made physical contact. An investigation began, and the students were loaded back onto the bus, with a different driver completing the route.
As part of the investigation, the Sheriff’s Office and the Three Rivers School District reviewed video footage from the bus and conducted interviews. The next day, June 6, Sheriff Dave Daniel issued a press release that cleared the driver and cast blame on students.
“No evidence of criminal wrongdoing or physical contact was found,” the sheriff's statement said. “In turn, evidence of juveniles acting inappropriately which affected their safety caused the driver to stop the bus within district policy.”
The Three Rivers School District was continuing its internal investigation and was talking with the families of the students who were involved.
David Valenzuela, superintendent of the Three Rivers School District, told NBC5 that the incident “was very specific to the behavior of a couple students that started the whole situation.” Valenzuela did not tell the news source exactly what those students were doing, but, based on the video footage, he described their behavior as “fairly extreme and of great concern.”
The incident reportedly drew a great deal of attention online. The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office said that “inaccurate accounts … flooded social media,” and the sheriff's press release included a note of caution to the public to carefully screen social media.