Local News

Wayne County parents upset with driver in school bus fight

Posted December 7, 2010 5:26 p.m. EST
Updated December 7, 2010 6:55 p.m. EST

School Bus

— Some parents are blaming a school bus driver for not stepping in soon enough to stop a violent fight that broke out between two sixth-graders on a school bus in Wayne County. 

It started as an argument between two Grantham students, and then threats were exchanged. Soon, one of the girls punched the other, while students cheered them on.

Tami and Ryan Lehman's daughter was on the bus when it happened. She's friends with the girl who was punched.

Tami Lehman said the video brought her to tears.

“She could have been killed. She was stomped by that person,” Tami Lehman said.

There are many things about this fight that the Lehmans say make them furious, including the bus driver's response.

“If the bus driver had good order and discipline, that wouldn't have happened,” Ryan Lehman said.

Wayne County Schools spokesman Ken Derksen said the bus driver did not hear the earlier arguing but took action as soon as it got physical.

“She did exactly what she needed to do by pulling off to a safe location and telling the students to break up the fight, and they were able to do that without her having to get physically involved,” Derksen said.

“I feel there was enough yelling and screaming in the back of that bus that it just didn't concern her,” Ryan Lehman said.

A video of the fight, which ended up on YouTube, shows two girls arguing for more than three minutes before the first punch is thrown. Other students can be seen watching, recording the fight on cell phones and cheering them on.

At the urging of several parents, the video has since been pulled from YouTube.

The Lehmans said the video highlights a bigger problem.

“It’s awful, and something has got to be done because, before you know it, some kid around here is going to kill themselves due to bullying,” Tami Lehman said.

Derksen admits that fights sometimes occur.

“Despite the bullying prevention programs, despite the character education programs, fights do occasionally happen at a school,” he said.

School officials said they are not allowed to comment on specific punishments but said the incident has been investigated and handled according to policy.

Concerned parents told WRAL News that they think the bus driver should be held accountable too.