Walter Lane, a bus driver of Duval County Jacksonville, Florida school children, was fired recently for belting a fifth grader. Apparently, Mr. Lane admitted to the police (the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office) that he pulled off his belt and hit a 10 year old child on the leg. The 10 year old had thrown paper on the bus.
The child’s mother, Anita Cummings, was quite upset over the incident and felt that her trust in the transportation system was violated. This story was reported by Topher Sanders, Education Reporter, for the Florida Times Union at Jacksonville Florida Bus Driver Fired for Striking Fifth Grader. Several readers posted comments on the site. Some of which even thought it was acceptable to belt the child. Yes, the child should have behaved but there is no defense to the poor judgment, anger, and violence of the bus driver. What was the bus driver thinking? Really, there are ways to deal with unruly children but not with a belt.
Mr. Lane was dismissed or fired from his job. In addition, Mr. Lane may face Criminal Charges for his actions which incurred personal injuries and harm to the child. There is no legal defense for the bus driver to state that the child deserved the beating. After all, the child threw a piece of paper. The child was not waving around a knife or other weapon.
The Duval County School Board Rules require the the school and bus drivers provide for the “safety and welfare of students while being transferred to and from school and school sponsored or school related activities.” The student shall be provided with transportation services as long as he or she follows rules of safety and behavior necessary to allow for the proper operation of transportation services. Yes, the student should have been behaving better; however, belting the child is not part of the Duval County School Board Rules in any respect.