Boston Public Schools

Boston School Bus Driver Punched by Parent, District ‘Outraged'

Taylor School Principal Jennifer Marks said that "a parent was allegedly involved in a physical altercation with the bus driver on afternoon school bus B541"

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A Boston Public Schools bus driver was punched in the face while driving students home this week in Dorchester, according to police and school officials.

The incident happened Tuesday afternoon on a Taylor School bus, and school officials said they were "outraged and disappointed" over what happened. The person who attacked the driver, who is said to be in his 70s and hospitalized, is a parent of a student on the bus, according to a Boston police report.



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The parent suspected of the attack has been identified but has not been arrested, according to police. The incident stemmed from something that happened on Monday, according to the police report, in which a student on the bus said the driver had hit her, while the driver said he had caught the girl, who was standing up while the bus was in motion, as she was falling over after he hit the brakes.

The incident happened Tuesday afternoon on a Taylor School bus, and school officials said they were "outraged and disappointed" in the wake of the ordeal.

Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper addressed the incident in a letter to parents Thursday.

"As many of you know, one of our colleagues was assaulted by an adult while completing their route," Skipper wrote in a letter sent to drivers. "I am sure many of you felt the same way I am feeling right now - outraged and disappointed. I know this may also cause a lot of uncertainty and anxiety for many of you too."

In a letter to parents, Taylor School Principal Jennifer Marks said, "a parent was allegedly involved in a physical altercation with the bus driver on afternoon school bus B541," after which point school staff were immediately notified, and BPD and a BPS Transportation Road Safety Supervisor responded. A substitute bus driver was sent to take the students home.

Disciplinary action from law enforcement is possible, Marks noted.

A consultant hired by Boston Public Schools suggested one way to improve school bus performance is to adjust start times across the district.

"I want to be very clear, violence of any kind is unacceptable and will not be tolerated," Skipper wrote in her letter. "We will ensure our colleague has the support he needs while he recovers. We are also working with BPS Safety Services and the Boston Police to ensure safety on all our school buses and accountability for anyone who engages in inappropriate behaviors towards BPS staff."

The district's trauma response team was supporting students who may have witnessed the incident happen. Support was also offered to employees through the city's Employee Assistance Program.

A Boston Public Schools spokesperson issued this statement:

"We cannot reiterate enough our belief that violence of any kind is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Boston Public Schools or on our school buses. BPS is working with BPS Safety Services and Boston Police to ensure all staff and students are safe on our buses. Our bus drivers work incredibly hard every day to ensure that students are safely transported to and from school. It is essential that we have community support to keep our students and staff safe. We will continue working with Transdev and USW Local 8751 to provide ongoing support to the driver. Boston Public Schools will also cooperate with any investigation into this incident."

The police report indicated that the incident was reported to police about 4:39 p.m. Tuesday on Wollaston Terrace in Dorchester.

The bus driver told officers that he'd been hit in the face by a man who got onto the bus and said something about not messing with his kid, according to the report. The driver had a swollen eye and a bloodied lip; children on the bus said the man was the parent of a Taylor School student.

Mary Skipper is the city's sixth super intendent in the last 10 years, but as she told NBC10 Boston's Jeff Saperstone, she plans to be in the position for the long haul.

Behind the bus, officers found a car that matched the description of the alleged attacker's vehicle and which they traced to the man the driver believed hit him, police said. The car was ticketed, but the man wasn't found at the address associated with the car.

The officers were also made aware of a police report filed the previous day from the same intersection, according to that report. In that incident, reported Monday at about the same time, a woman said her daughter told her she'd been pushed on a school bus by the driver. The driver said the girl had been standing next to him while the bus was in motion — something the students repeatedly do, despite his warnings — and that she'd fallen forward when he hit the brakes, forcing him to catch her.

The girl told officers called to the scene that she had abdominal pain, but the officers didn't see any bruising or redness and her mother didn't want her to be taken to the hospital for evaluation, according to a report on the incident.

Some parents Friday morning weren't aware the incident had happened.

"If you have something to say, if you have something to do, you can stop the bus driver and talk to them about that. It's not fair to attack them because he's here to work for you and you're supposed to help him and he's going to help you," Julionne Berghold said.

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