HPSD bus driver under investigation, allegedly spit on child

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) — A Hattiesburg school bus driver has been relieved of his duties pending an investigation by school officials.

At issue is the allegation that the driver spit on a child after kids on the bus were acting unruly.

“So immediately I’m talking to him and telling him that’s not how you discipline a child, you know? That’s just totally too far,” said Pearl Bernard.

Those were a mother’s words to a Hattiesburg Public School District bus driver after her son came home and said his bus driver spit on him.

“And I asked him, ‘Did you spit on my son?’ and he flat out said yes I’m tired of these kids throwing things at me,” she said. “My son told me maybe somebody was throwing rubber bands at him and hitting him. He did address the child that he thought was doing it or that he saw doing that, but that wasn’t the child he spit on.”

Bernard feels that despite the circumstances, when he disciplines those kids, they shouldn’t be spit on.

“There’s a proper way to handle it.”

This was the statement released from HPSD regarding the matter:

“This matter is currently being investigated and any specifics fall under personnel matters. The driver in question has been removed from duty pending the outcome of the investigation. We take any allegations of this nature very seriously. All HPSD employees are expected to behave in a professional manner in all interactions, especially with students. Our investigation will be conducted in accordance with the District’s Code of Ethics & Standards of Conduct.”

According to Jas’n Smith, Public Relations with the district, school buses do not have surveillance cameras.

Another parent expressed concerns about the bus driver being out numbered.

“He’s the only one on the bus. You know, you have more than 10 to 15 students that are on that bus,” said parent Nikiya Brown. “And you do have those students who tend to be more problems than others, and you know you can understand how he can get frustrated. If he is that frustrated then he should ask for help, there should be someone else on that bus to watch those children.”

Bernard says another issue is students bullying each other at school and on the bus.

“There’s been multiple times where someone’s hit him or threw a pencil,” she expressed. “It’s small stuff but it can add up to bigger things. You have to know what’s going on and if you know what’s going on, you can step up and do something. Had I  not known this was going on then there would’ve been nothing that I could’ve done.”

According to the statement, the driver has been removed from his duties pending the outcome of the investigation.

Bus drivers are hired by the Hattiesburg Public School District.

We will continue to follow this investigation and keep you updated.

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