Bullying incident raises questions about responsibilities of bus drivers

A 13-year-old boy’s mother spoke out this week after her son was allegedly beaten up on a Sparta school bus.

At first, Misty Morales didn’t want to blame the Lamers Bus Line school bus driver for failing to put a stop to it.

“I really like the bus driver. I really do. He’s a really good guy. He has so many students on that bus, so many children, and he’s driving,” said Morales.

But after watching the surveillance video from inside the bus, Misty Morales questions why he didn’t take action.

“I can understand if he didn’t see the elbowing to the head of my son, but when my son stood up and fists were thrown on both behalves, I know that something was seen,” said Morales.

But West Salem school bus driver of 13 years, Tom Saxton, said it can be easy to miss something.

“We are responsible for two major situations: driving the bus safely and taking care of the 70-plus kids that are sitting behind me,” said Saxton.

His attention is divided in a big way.


Driving on snowy residential roads, navigating through traffic and looking out for pedestrians, it can be hard to keep an eye on kids’ behavior.

“You can’t be looking in that mirror too much because you need to be looking out that front windshield,” said Saxton.

And even though he’s found time to report students misbehaving on his bus before, Saxton said his number one priority has to be getting the kids where they need to go.

“I don’t think there’s anything that anybody hauls around that’s more valuable than what we haul around: It’s kids. [We’ve] got to get them to school and home safely,” said Saxton.

After hearing Morales’ emotional plea, the Sparta School Board said it would take a closer look at its bus policies. Those issues will come up at a committee meeting on March 12.