Parents want school bus driver fired for spanking boy


by Associated Press


Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:34 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 13 at 5:05 PM

EAGLE POINT, Ore. -- Parents in a Southern Oregon school district submitted a petition seeking the removal of a bus driver accused of spanking a 6-year-old boy who wouldn't sit down.

The parents also contend the woman is a bad driver.

The petition was submitted to the Eagle Point School District on Tuesday. It was signed by the parents of roughly three dozen students on Bus Route 22, a rural stretch that's 25 miles long and keeps some children on the bus for up to an hour.

School district officials said they investigated the matter and took appropriate action. They said they couldn't disclose what measures they took because laws prohibit them from discussing personnel matters.

"The facts we found were not the same as the allegation," said Michael Remick, Eagle Point schools human resources director.

Parents said the driver was absent for two weeks, but is now back on the route, prompting them to start the petition.

The alleged spanking occurred Oct. 30. The boy's 10-year-old sister submitted a statement saying the driver grabbed her brother's arm and "hit him on the thigh four to five times."

Julie McGonagle, foster mother of the 6-year-old boy, provided the Mail Tribune newspaper with a copy of the statement, which had been documented by an Eagle Point schools counselor. McGonagle now drives the boy to school.

Other parents said they removed their children from the bus for safety reasons. Their children have told them the driver becomes distracted while yelling at the kids and frequently accelerates and then slams on the brakes.

"The kids come home saying, 'She almost hit a car,' " said Cori Teitzel, mother of a 12th-grade son and first-grade daughter. Teitzel said she now drives her daughter to Elk Trail Elementary, while her son continues to ride the bus to Eagle Point High School.

Parents also said they are unhappy with the way the driver handles disciplinary matters, including shouting and whistling loudly into the intercom.

"I don't feel it's safe with her as a driver, and I don't think the kids should be treated like this," Parent Leah Ferrell said.