Colorado bus driver Brian Fitzgerald of the Douglas County School District has reportedly been charged with 30 counts of child abuse after a video surfaced showing him intentionally slamming the brakes to teach students a lesson.
Fitzgerald has also been terminated from the school district, according to KRDO, a local news station.
A camera inside the bus shows a frustrated Fitzgerald telling students to remain in their seats and asks, "Do you guys want to see how dangerous that is?" He then slams on the brakes as 30 Castle Rock Elementary students are catapulted into the seatbacks in front of them.
Kids can be heard saying "Ow!" and "Oh my God" and "Why would he do that," while asking each other if they are OK.
Fitzgerald then tells the children that's why they need to "sit down properly," and warns that they'll be written up if they don't cooperate.
One student called her parents from the bus and reported the incident.
"Um, the bus driver hit the brakes, and somebody got hurt so badly and is like bleeding on the cheek," the student told her parents.
KRDO says when that student was dropped off she started crying, and the driver closed the door and pulled away before being able to speak with the adult who picked her up.
That girl was among others who complained.
"My son came tearing through the door that afternoon," Lauren Thomason told KRDO. "He sprinted all the way home. He was out of breath and red-faced and absolutely sobbing and shaking. He was terrified."
The students on the bus ranged from kindergarten to sixth grade.
Fitzgerald wrote a letter to supervisors that evening expressing concerns, and described "a historical pattern of improper student management." He also issued an apology.
"I am sincerely sorry for my choice of actions today in my efforts of training students. I am still 100% responsible for my actions in trying to both educate and control students on the bus. Being a new driver, I did not make the best decision and if I were able to redo what I did I would rethink my decisions," he wrote.
Scripps News has reached out to the Douglas County School District for comment, but has yet to receive a response. However, a spokesperson made this statement to KRDO: "The behavior and actions of this bus driver are completely unacceptable. We are so grateful to the parents and the principal who reported this incident, allowing us to take swift action and ensure this driver was never again allowed behind the wheel of a DCSD bus.”
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