Police investigate complaints of bus driver assaulting elementary students

Beauclerc Elementary School student punched by bus driver, boy's mother says

By Corley Peel - Reporter, Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Police are investigating an incident involving a bus driver who allegedly physically assaulted two Beauclerc Elementary School students Monday afternoon, according to a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report. 

The incident report shows the bus driver got angry at the students while taking them home, brought the students back to the school on Craven Road West and put his hands on two students. 

School officials said the bus driver has been placed on paid administrative leave while the Sheriff's Office and Durham School Services, the private company that hires bus drivers for Duval County Public Schools, continue to investigate.

Shawniece Mathis-Washington said her fifth grade son, Elijah, was almost home from school Monday afternoon when she got a call, saying a bus driver assaulted her son on bus No. 152 while he was sticking up for a classmate.

“I got a call from a little girl on the bus stating that the bus was being turned around back to the school due to a beating of my child and another child," she told News4Jax on Tuesday. 

Police said a girl took out her cellphone to record the incident and, at some point, the bus driver allegedly elbowed the student in the chest, took her phone and shook her. 

Mathis-Washington said her son, who has asthma, then intervened. According to the police report, the driver then punched the boy in the face and stomach with a closed fist.

"It was ... over the cellphone. He asked her for the phone. She told him no and he just went ballistic," the mother said. "My son told him, 'You can't be hitting nobody.' And he turned around, hit my son in the face several times, hit him in his chest and arms."

Investigators said a teacher inside a classroom ran outside after hearing the students screaming and saw the bus driver yelling, with his hands on the boy's shoulder.

Photos taken by Shawniece Mathis-Washington of her son after school bus incident

The teacher told police that the bus driver then drove off with the girl's cellphone and the boy's inhaler.

READ: Letter sent to parents of Beauclerc Elementary School students after incident

Police said they didn't see any visible injuries on the two students. But Mathis-Washington took photos of her son, showing minor scratches on his face, while he was in an ambulance.

"It makes me uncomfortable to send my kid to the bus or the school her in Duval County," Mathis-Washington said. 

The mother said she hopes there will be a stricter process for hiring bus drivers.

"Two kids got beat on that bus. And Jacksonville, Duval County needs to know what happened to these kids," Mathis-Washington said. "Everybody needs to know what these bus people are doing. They're not actually investigating who they're hiring."

She said her son is doing OK and was back in school on Tuesday. 

The incident report reveals the bus should have surveillance video showing what happened. 

According to parents, the man driving the bus wasn't the regular driver and he was filling in on that route.

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