An Atkinson family may file a civil lawsuit against the Timberlane Regional School District after a school bus driver allegedly berated their 11-year-old son.
Two weeks ago, Eric Roux said, his son got off the bus and immediately broke down crying.
"My son said the bus driver yelled at him continuously for 30 minutes," Roux said. "He got yelled at for not having his backpack in his lap and said something fresh. The bus driver immediately stopped and screamed at him, close enough where he got spit on his face. He called him stupid idiot for the next 10 stops."
Timberlane contracts with First Student for bus transportation.
Every school bus is equipped with a small video camera, so the incident with driver Al Lamonica was recorded.
Roux told school district officials he wanted to see the video, but his request was rejected.
District Superintendent Richard La Salle said there are rules governing when these tapes can be made public.
"There's limitations in terms of how the videos can be released to protect the privacy of students," La Salle said. "If we are severely disciplining a student, then a parent can view those tapes. In talking with our attorney, the determination was made that, under these circumstances, we could not release the tape."
La Salle said the bus driver's behavior was "not appropriate," but it was not grounds to fire him. Instead, La Salle said, he asked the bus company to assign the driver to another route.
"I will say the bus driver did speak harshly to the student, but he was not profane in any way," La Salle said. "We communicated our concerns to the bus company and the bus company took action."
Timothy Stokes, spokesman for First Student, said because of the complaint, the driver is no longer driving children from home to school.
"This driver is operating charter service only," he said. "It's field trips, sporting events, things of that nature."
Stokes said the company worked with the school district to make the decision. They address issues like this on a case-by-case basis, he said.
"(Lamonica) has been working with the school district for 12 years and the driver had no previous complaints," Stokes said.
Roux reported the incident to Plaistow police. He said an officer reviewed the video, but since the bus driver never physically touched his son, police said it is not a criminal issue. Now, Roux plans to sue the school in civil court in order to see the video.
"I'm not looking for any money," Roux said. "Every parent is amazed that we don't have the right to see the video. It's our son and we pay taxes for that bus. It's about a right to know stuff that happens to your kid on a bus or anywhere on school property."
Michelle Roux said she just wants to see what happened to her son.
"It's devastating to us," she said. "We feel like this bus driver bullied our son and got away with it. It just kills me that he's still driving a bus."
After the incident on the bus, the boy was bullied by older students at school, according to his parents. La Salle said the school followed the proper procedure for everything.
"There was some fallout from the incident and it was handled," La Salle said. "We feel that throughout this whole process, we have worked in the best interests of the child and the family. Obviously, we are saddened when these things happen. I think we've done a fairly good job with it."
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