School bus-related crimes and incidents have made headlines in recent weeks. School Bus Fleet has a roundup of some of the recent incidents involving school buses. They include:
- Charges dropped against former Oklahoma school bus driver arrested for refusing to let students off bus.
- Florida school bus driver arrested after unknowingly driving sleeping girl around.
- New York police choose not to charge school bus driver fired for driving students while drinking.
- Virginia school bus driver injured in altercation with parent.
Charges Dropped Against Former Oklahoma School Bus Driver Arrested for Refusing to Let Students off Bus
Charges against a former Broken Arrow (Okla.) school bus driver who was arrested after an incident during one of his routes have been dropped.
The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office chose to decline charges against 68-year-old Thomas Young a week after the incident.
Thomas Young was arrested after a Broken Arrow Public Schools spokesperson said Young refused to let students off his bus to be released to their parents on Oct. 13. He was charged with kidnapping and child abuse.
The following day, a spokesperson said Young was no longer employed by that school district.
On Oct. 20, the Broken Arrow Police Department announced that the D.A.'s office declined the charges. In a news release, the department explained that with any arrest, criminal charges are submitted to the D.A. for review. Ultimately, their office has the discretion to file formal charges based on the burden of proof for a conviction.
According to News on 6, on the day of the incident, Young told police it was his second day on the route and that he was unfamiliar with it. Witnesses said they saw the bus stop and kids inside were screaming for help. Some reportedly were climbing out through the emergency exit door.
Police said Young started and stopped the bus several times while students escaped out the back.
Authorities watched surveillance video they said showed Young yelling at the students that he wasn't going to move the vehicle unless they were quiet. The video also showed parents knocking on the side of the bus and Young still refusing to let anyone off.
Police said Young also reportedly used his arm to hold a child back from exiting the bus to get to the child's parents.
On the day of Young's arrest, the police department determined there was probable cause to make an arrest, besides witness accounts and victim's statements. Still, the D.A. declined the charges.
On Oct. 20, after spending a week in jail because he could not afford the $60,000 bond, Young was released following the decision.
In an interview with News on 6, Young said he was just trying to do his job. His attorney said the situation never should have involved police.
Young apologized to parents who felt their children were threatened. He explained that he pulled the bus over when the students were loud, repeatedly telling them he would not move until they sat down and got quiet. The district said Young should not have pulled over on a busy street. Instead, he should have found a safer place.
Young said he was moving slow because the children were rowdy. Parents were following him because he was late to the students' bus stops. He said he did not let the students out because he was told he was only supposed to let them off at designated stops.
Young believes the only thing he did wrong was lose his cool.
His attorney said the situation could have been handled more efficiently and that an investigation should have been done prior to the arrest, rather than "having him languish [in jail] for a week," in a statement to News on 6.
Florida School Bus Driver Arrested After Unknowingly Driving Sleeping Girl Around
A Florida school bus driver was arrested after authorities said she unknowingly drove around a 4-year-old girl for several hours on the school bus.
According to Miami-Dade Police, on Sept. 19, 33-year-old Elizabeth Maria Carrero was supposed to drop off 12 students at school during her morning route, but only 11 exited the bus. A 4-year-old had fallen asleep on the back of the bus.
NBC 6 South Florida reported that after dropping off the 11 students, Carrero apparently drove to the bank, and then to the mechanic to fix her air filter and get gas. Carrero then reportedly drove herself home and made herself breakfast.
There, a neighbor reported that they saw a child getting off the bus drenched in sweat. The neighbor then knocked Carrero's front door and dropped the girl off.
According to the arrest report, Carrero then called the girl's parents and asked them to pick her up.
Carrero was arrested on Oct. 5, following an investigation, on charges of child neglect. She was later released from jail after posting bail.
Miami-Dade Public Schools clarified to NBC 6 South Florida that neither the driver nor the vehicle are part of the school district's transportation system and that the bus was contracted.
New York Police Choose Not to Charge School Bus Driver Fired for Driving Students While Drinking
Authorities in Long Island (N.Y.) said they won't charge a school bus driver who was fired after driving students while drinking an alcohol seltzer beverage on Oct. 5.
Amal Hanna told News 12 Long Island that she took the drink from the refrigerator she shares with her roommate, not realizing that White Claw contained alcohol.
Hanna is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments and said she has trouble tasting, which is why she did not taste any alcohol in it. When the hard seltzer can was spotted in the driver’s cup holder on the bus, she was immediately removed.
News 12 spoke with the parents of several students who ride Hanna's bus, who said positive things about her.
Hanna's former employer, We Transport Bus Company, released a statement to News 12 saying the alleged conduct was unacceptable.
Suffolk County said investigators believe Hanna thought she was drinking a non-alcoholic drink. They said no charges will be filed.
Virginia School Bus Driver Injured in Altercation with Parent
A Virginia Beach, Va., school bus driver was injured during an altercation with a parent on Oct. 23.
Virginia Beach Police told WAVY that a parent allegedly stabbed the bus driver in the hand during the altercation. The driver was taken to the hospital and is expected to be okay.
There were no children on the bus at the time of the incident.
Police have not said whether anyone is facing charges. They also did not immediately release details on the circumstances surrounding the incident.