KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A school bus driver who was removed from the Knox County Schools eligibility roster after an investigation found he was texting while driving a bus is denying the accusation, Knoxville News Sentinel reports.

The driver, Charles Ramey Jr., who works for Brown Buses, has been a bus driver for the district for 13 years. He was driving a bus as part of sixth-grade and ninth-grade orientation last week, Russ Oaks, the chief operating officer for the district, told the newspaper. A motorist reported that Ramey was using his phone while driving the bus. No students were on the bus at the time of the alleged incident, Knoxville News Sentinel reports.

Ramey said that he received a text message from his employer verifying the address of a school that was new to his route, and he picked up the phone, saw the message, did not respond and put the phone down, Knoxville News Sentinel reports. He added that he felt like he was used as a scapegoat because of the fatal Dec. 2 bus crash in which one of the bus drivers involved was found to be texting.

Several parents whose children had Ramey as a bus driver defended him and want him returned to the route, according to the newspaper.

School officials, however, said that Ramey admitted to texting when questioned in an investigation, according to Knoxville News Sentinel. The investigator inspected the phone to confirm that texting took place at the time and reported that the driver did read a text message that was sent to him, Oaks told the newspaper.

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