EDMONTON — A fed-up school bus driver hits the brakes and opens the door.
He tosses a backpack outside, then orders a 13-year-old boy off the bus, forcing him to walk home.
A video showing the exchange last week, along with angry shouts from children still on the Edmonton bus, was recorded by a student and released by Global News on the weekend.
On Monday, the bus company issued a statement defending the employee. Laura Doroshenko with Cunningham Transport Ltd., said a second video had been shot by the bus driver showing the other side of the story.
She said the student ejected from the bus punched a child sitting across the aisle. He then threatened the bus driver with violence.
Another 13-year-old boy had also slammed his hockey bag into the driver’s head when he stepped off the bus a moment earlier, she said. The driver’s glasses were knocked sideways on his face.
The driver tried to radio the company’s office to report he was having trouble but couldn’t reach anyone, said Doroshenko.
So he kicked the student off.
“The driver felt at the time that this was the safest location for the student in question, but also to ensure the safety of the students on board,” she said.
The company has received many emails and phone calls both in support and against the driver, she said. She quoted a letter from one mother, who said children often act terribly on buses and that the driver in this case must have had “good reason to lose it.”
The driver, who has worked with the company since 2010, noticed there was bad behaviour on the bus when he started driving the route two weeks ago, Doroshenko said.
On the morning of May 25, he had an argument with the student carrying the hockey bag and his father, said Doroshenko. The parent insisted the boy be allowed to take the large bag on the bus and the driver relented, but insisted the stick stay home.
The bus was not equipped with a camera, so the driver decided later that day to set up his own for the trip home. That video didn’t record any audio.
The video taken by the student was shot from the back of the bus and only shows the driver ejecting the student.
“Get off my bus” the driver yells before closing the door.
“I’m pretty sure that’s child abuse” shouts one child, as another starts sobbing.
Doroshenko said she’s sorry that it was a stressful situation for some students on the bus.
She added the ejected student was dropped off at a mall about 10 blocks from home.
Edmonton Catholic Schools recommended the driver be fired, but Doroshenko said the company has instead decided to remove him from the division’s routes.
“The driver is the adult and there is no reason why a student should be taken off the bus,” said school division spokeswoman Lori Nagy. “There were many other avenues that the driver could have taken.”
The two boys have been suspended from taking the bus for one week. She said an employee will be riding the bus this week to monitor behaviour.
Chris Purdy, The Canadian Press