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Joplin Bus Driver on Paid Leave, Investigation of Braking & Stud - KOAM TV 7

Joplin Bus Driver on Paid Leave, Investigation of Braking & Student Injuries

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Joplin, MO -   A Joplin bus driver is on paid leave after parents contend the driver's intentional braking injured students.

        Officers are investigating the incident but parents say, they've expressed concerns for a year.

     They say a different driver this year took discipline into his own hands with harmful results.

Moms at Michigan Place apartments kept their girls home from school after being injured on a bus ride home Tuesday.

Amber Flowers says of her daughter Emma, “She has pulled muscles and cervical strain in her neck.”

Debra Wadel's son wanted to go to school despite a similar cervical injury. Ambulance crews put his neck in a brace before his emergency room visit at Mercy Hospital where the doctors noted acute cervical strain.

Parents contend the driver of bus1bus 129mmed on his brakes repeatedly and intentionally  creating whiplash like conditions and  sending kids out of their seats.

Parent Nathan Cox related what children shared with him. “She said it  snapped his head  forward  hit on the front seat, snapped back onto the  head seat where  he was sitting in. She said there were kids, when he did that, that got thrown out of their seats into the aisle.  No sooner did that happen the bus driver  was cursing at them to get back in their seats.”

Nathan says his own son Aidan, was physically grabbed by the bus driver and told to sit up straight before the ride began. Nathan was there when kids exited the bus upset. “At least a half dozen children streaming off that bus just screaming for their parents crying hysterically upset, after that all  the other kids are going to parents mom he did this, he did, not just one, not just two. it was every single kid.  If it’s one or two children you might understand, but when every kid says it.”

Parents say this isn’t a new problem and something about which they've warned the district. And they do admit the school bus can be a little wild.

Nathan Cox says, “I concede immediately it is a loud bus. Last year when they told us it was going to be the bus route, we as parents called  the district and said you’re putting 50 kids on one bus, with one driver!  How is that supposed to work?”  Cox adds, “We loved  the driver last year. He  wasn’t a push over.  If a  kid acted up, you got a referral, got written up. But before he wrote  the kid up, he’d flag parents down and say I need to talk to you.  This is what your kid’s doing.”

Cox went on to say, “Even last year for his benefit , the parents petitioned the school for either an aid or a bus with a camera. Constantly

 petitioned  the school, anytime an  issue on bus, can we get a camera on the bus on there, can we get an aid on there. They’d say its out of  the budget, can’t afford that right now.”

Debra Wadel says, “They should have somebody else on that bus with them so that  things like this, should not happen. Or a camera.  I don’t know why the bus went back from the camera, from having one to not having one is beyond me. I don’t know if it’s funding.  They say they don’t have funding to put aids on the bus to help assist with the drivers.”

But parents now say its an atmosphere of fear.

Amber Flowers says, “I’ve already told the school, they’re not getting back on the bus  as long as he’s driving it.

Wadel said tearfully, “We count on them to be safe and come home safely to us and if we can’t  count on that, then what can we count on.”

District officials wouldn't talk on camera but say the driver was put on paid leave and gave this statement.

     "..We continue to investigate this matter, along with the Joplin police department, to determine what happened and who was involved.

     student safety is our priority. We will take appropriate actions pending the outcome of this investigation."

     And Joplin schools invite concerned parents to call administration  at 625-5200 - extension 2034 to offer them more insights to the case. 

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