A bus driver with Middlebury Community Schools has been fired after alleged inappropriate interactions with female students.
That’s according to the school administration, which made the announcement online.
They say the driver in question allegedly gave a girl a book to read, then asked her to call his cell phone afterward. They report on another occasion, he showed up at a student’s home to give them a gift. He also offered to drive a student to her house in his own vehicle.
The bus driver was disciplined after the incidents with verbal and written warnings. He was fired after he was allegedly spotted with a student, sitting in his lap, while stroking her hair and either smelling or kissing her head.
You can read the school corporation’s full statement below:
Traditionally, Middlebury Community Schools refrains from publicly commenting on the specifics of staff disciplinary matters. However, the emerging social media campaign spreading misinformation concerning a terminated school bus driver has forced Middlebury Community Schools to provide this statement, containing facts to dispel what can only be described as intentionally misleading rumors.
First, the disciplinary action taken against the bus driver is in no way related to his religious beliefs or practices. Again, the bus driver’s religious beliefs, his role as a leader in a local church or his religious practices did not factor, in any manner, into the termination of his employment. The reason for that termination was his repeated and continued failure to interact appropriately with young, female students. Several efforts by Middlebury Community Schools to redirect the bus driver through progressive discipline, designed to correct his objectionable behavior, proved unsuccessful.
Specifically, on May 17, 2022, the bus driver offered a female middle school student a book as a gift and the bus driver instructed the student to phone him on his private cell phone number after reading the book. The female student reported to school employees that she felt uncomfortable by the bus driver’s gift giving and sharing of his phone number. At that time, school administrators verbally warned the bus driver.
Five months later, the parents of two female, fourth grade students filed a formal complaint about the bus driver to Middlebury Community Schools. They stated that he appeared, unannounced, on a Friday evening, December 16, 2022, at one girl’s home to present gifts to the two female students, whom he referred to as his “special helpers.” At that time, the bus driver offered to drive one of the girls to her home in his private vehicle, a practice prohibited by school policy. Middlebury Community Schools reprimanded the bus driver in writing and directed him to avoid any inappropriate interactions with students in the future.
Then, on Friday, March 10, the bus driver was observed by another school employee with a female second grader sitting on his lap while waiting to release the riders to enter the school building. School bus video confirmed that the student sat on the bus driver’s lap for nearly ten minutes, while he intermittently stroked her hair, laid her head on his chest, either smelled or kissed her head and rested his chin on her head. The bus driver’s conduct was unacceptable and violated the written directive given to him just three months earlier.
Middlebury Community Schools will take all reasonable measures to protect students. Sometimes employees fail to recognize appropriate boundaries when interacting with students. When the circumstances warrant, Middlebury Community Schools attempts to correct that failure by providing the employee with specific instructions and directives. When an employee continues to fail to abide by those directives and again steps over those boundaries, Middlebury Community Schools must take disciplinary action. After viewing the video evidence, it is clear that the bus driver violated the directives. The school district cannot allow any employee, regardless of his or her community status, to behave improperly with students.
Middlebury Community Schools offers this statement to provide facts to our community and demonstrate that it is taking correct disciplinary action. No further comments will be made about this personnel matter.