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Bus driver in Paulding County fired following investigation into viral video with parent

The bus driver and parent were both charged with simple battery in the Jan. 18 exchange.

PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. — A bus driver lost her job and is now facing criminal charges along with a parent following a viral video that showed the parent slapping the bus driver as students tried to get off a bus in Paulding County.

Arrest warrants from the county stated that a parent hit the bus driver with her right hand and that the bus driver shoved that parent down the stairs of the bus.

The incident happened on Jan. 18, when the former substitute bus driver took students from All Good Elementary School to a bus stop near Old Harris Road and Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway. 

Students in Paulding County must wear tags on their bags to show the driver where to let them off, and according to the district, at least one student was not wearing their tag. 

In a release from the Paulding County School District, they said students were behaving but that there were " numerous violations of safety and operating protocols" that jeopardized student safety - well before kids were let off the bus.

Here's the full release:

"In this instance, these well-established protocols for the release of students from the school bus were not followed. This, in addition to a general lack of communication, allowed the situation to quickly escalate and become a serious safety concern. Our bus drivers model excellence daily, but in this isolated case, protocols and expectations were not followed.

Our bus drivers undergo comprehensive training on our protocols. Training and manuals cover protocols requiring drivers to prioritize student safety, demonstrate professionalism, and manage student behavior with sound judgment. As dedicated professionals, our bus drivers have an expectation to never jeopardize student safety or treat students in an abusive manner. As a school district, we hold ourselves to a much higher standard." 

The viral video shows how the situation went down with students trying to climb out the bus's windows and dropping their bags to their parents below.

On Tuesday, the district said the driver was fired from Paulding County School District. The parent and former driver face simple battery charges.

11Alive spoke with the former bus driver, who said she could have handled the situation better. 

“I’m still trying to find a lawyer because I want to clear those charges and clear my name," she said. "What I did in the moment was to protect those kids from someone I didn’t know who was or what she was capable of. And yes, I probably didn’t do my job at the best that day because I was super stressed and was going to call out that afternoon. Then this happened. It was frustrating and chaotic and I couldn’t control the kids." 

The former bus driver said the day she was released from jail, her father passed away. She said due to limited finances, she could only cremate him and not hold a funeral service. The former bus driver is considering taking legal action against the school district but said it was not guaranteed. 

The school district said there is video of the entire bus route, but it has not released the entire video to 11Alive. 


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