A bus driver with the Aspen School District was placed on administrative leave last week after he allegedly lifted an 8-year-old by his sweatshirt and forced him into a new seat.
District Superintendent John Maloy said the incident happened on McLain Flats Road, where the boy and his family live; he was unsure which day.
The boy was misbehaving, and the driver was directing him to a new seat, Maloy said Tuesday.
“We feel it was an inappropriate response in dealing with a safety matter on a bus,” he said of placing the employee on leave.
The driver’s actions resulted in the boy’s sweatshirt being torn. He was not injured, Maloy said.
“It’s safe to say it was disciplinary in nature,” he said of the driver’s behavior. “It was more about getting [the student’s] attention to change his seat.”
He declined to name the driver, who has worked at the district for three years, because it is a personnel matter.
The employee is on unpaid administrative leave pending a full investigation by transportation director Fred Brooks. Brooks referred questions to Maloy.
Brooks “will make the determination on what we plan on doing with the bus driver, either with him continuing with the district or possible termination,” Maloy said.
He said Brooks has apologized to the boy’s parents and “made it clear that is not behavior we will tolerate.”
The school district has no written policy on staff using physical force with students.
“But the general rule we tell all of our staff is don’t put hands on children unless it’s a life-or-death situation,” Maloy said. “If you’re protecting yourself or a child, then by all means. But in today’s world, placing hands on young people is not something we encourage or support.”
The incident was not captured on surveillance footage. While some larger school districts employ video cameras on buses, Aspen does not, Maloy said.
“We don’t have significant bus behavior that creates” safety problems, and officials don’t feel the need to install cameras, he said.