Disciplined Mesa bus driver back behind wheel - East Valley Tribune: News

Disciplined Mesa bus driver back behind wheel

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Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 5:23 pm | Updated: 12:38 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A Mesa school bus driver who turned the air conditioner when students acted up last month is back on the job but on another route, a school spokeswoman said Tuesday.

A Mesa Unified School District bus driver who turned the air conditioner off for at least three minutes in 108-degree temperatures when students acted up last month is back on the job but on another route, a school spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Surveillance video displayed by the district on Tuesday shows a bus carrying more than 80 Kerr Elementary kids, many of whom were screaming on Aug. 26. The driver, whose name has not been released, repeatedly and calmly tells the children that he doesn't want to see anyone standing up or kneeling on their seats.

The bus driver minutes later pulled the bus over when the kids would not quiet down or stop moving around in their seats and he turned the air conditioner off for at least three minutes before resuming the ride. The temperature was 108 degrees at about 2 p.m., according to the National Weather Service, about the time the bus driver pulled the bus over.

The bus driver followed protocol by pulling the bus to the side of the road, until order was restored. However, he turned the air off and told the children if they wanted to go home to sit down and be quiet.

"The driver made an error, and we acknowledged that error," Bareiss said. "He knows not to do what he did again."

As the bus sat on the side of the road, the video showed one student, a young boy, walking up the aisle and asking the driver, "Can I go home?" The driver replied, "No, sit down and be quiet."

The driver also told another boy to shut the window.

The bus driver was well-liked, had no prior complaints or discipline against him and was appropriately disciplined for the incident, according to Kathy Bareiss, district spokeswoman.

The driver initially was placed on paid administrative leave. Bareiss said she was not sure when he returned to work.

Mesa police were not involved the incident.

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