EDMONTON, Alberta — Officials from a school district here said on Tuesday that they were wrong to call for a school bus driver’s firing for an incident that was recorded by two different cameras — each painting a different picture of what happened.
The first video of the May 25 incident was shot on the cell phone of a passenger sitting at the back of the bus. It appears to show the driver throwing another student’s bag off of the bus and making him get off as well. Other passengers can be heard yelling in outrage — “You can’t do that!”, “He doesn’t know how to get back home!” Then the camera turns to show the student standing at a corner as the bus pulls away.
After seeing that cell phone video, which was aired by news media, the Edmonton Catholic School District board called for the school bus driver to be terminated. The driver is an employee of contractor Cunningham Transport.
According to CBC News, Cunningham refused to fire the driver but did take him off of the district’s routes.
Cunningham then provided a second video of the school bus incident to media outlets. That clip, taken by a dashcam that the driver had installed, put the driver’s actions into context.
In the dashcam video, the student who was later ejected from the bus can be seen apparently kicking and hitting a passenger in the seat across the aisle from him. Then another student walks to the front of the bus and hits the driver in the head with a large duffel bag before he disembarks.
As for the student who had apparently been kicking and hitting another passenger, Cunningham Operations Manager Laura Doroshenko said that he also threatened to throw his backpack at the driver, CBC News reports. On the dashcam video, the driver can be seen throwing that student’s backpack off of the bus and making him leave.
"The driver felt at the time that this was the safest location for the student in question, but also to ensure the safety of the students on board," Doroshenko said in a written statement provided to CBC News.
After seeing the dashcam video, the Edmonton Catholic School District board changed its stance.
“In light of the second video showing an assault on the driver, we realize we should not have requested the driver’s termination,” district officials said in a statement, adding that they “have apologized to his employer, Cunningham Transportation Services, and will be apologizing to the driver as soon as we can reach him."
The district is conducting an investigation of the incident and is reviewing its use of video surveillance and safety protocols on buses.
“The district does not in any way condone the behaviour of the two students involved in the separate incidents on the bus,” officials said, “and the principals for both students were made aware of the situation so that they could take measures, which they have.”
Watch both videos here. From the school bus passenger’s cell phone:
From the dashcam at the front of the bus: