Parents call bus incident in Huntsville “unacceptable”

HUNTSVILLE, Ala - Huntsville police and the city's school district continue to investigate and incident that took place on a bus Tuesday afternoon.

The bus driver told police he skipped the stops because the students were being so disruptive, telling officers he pulled over at Sparkman Drive and Pulaski Pike to get some help with the situation. And soon after, pictures of the students standing at the intersection surfaced on social media.

The school district offered a statement Tuesday saying, "Huntsville City Schools is aware of an issue with an Apple Bus driver that occurred this afternoon. HCS district staff responded to the situation to provide assistance and ensure that another bus was dispatched so that all kids could be safely transported home."

One of the stops that were skipped is located near the intersection of Holmes Avenue and Dallas. Parents who live near the bus stop say what happened Tuesday was unacceptable.

"It's ridiculous. It's like, now what do we expect next," said Alicia Russell, a concerned mother.

Russel's children take the bus every day. "When they go to school, this is actually where they get picked up at, or they'll drop them off right here. And that will be where they get on and off the bus," she explained.

But that is not what happened Tuesday, she says the driver continued driving instead of stopping. Her children told her the driver said he was taking them to his house.

Russel said her children were too scared to ride the bus on Wednesday morning.  "Now they're traumatized and from what they told me yesterday, what if that could have happened? You know, kidnapping them and taking them all the way to the other side of town."

Huntsville Police say at this point the driver not facing any criminal charges. "Not right now. We don't have any evidence or any information from anybody who was at the scene. And no one has called in with any information rises to the level of any criminal activity," Lieutenant Michael Johnson said.

Russell never wants this to happen again. "If you are going to hire someone to drive buses just do a real you know, a really good background check because you never know."

Huntsville City Schools released a statement saying they don't either. The Huntsville City School District released this statement to WHNT News 19.

"Huntsville City Schools has investigated the situation and found the Apple Bus driver’s actions in dealing with this issue was unacceptable.This situation was an isolated incident.  Huntsville City Schools Transportation Coordinator has and continues to oversee our student transportation provider, Apple Bus Company.  He is working with our HCS District team to see that this matter with the company is resolved and to ensure that our students are safely transported to and from school. The safety of our students is a high priority.  Therefore, as part of its agreement with Apple Bus Company, Huntsville City Schools requires all bus drivers to meet all Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) requirements, including: the ability to pass the State of Alabama mandated background check; a pre-employment background check; and drug screening check. All applicants for a driver position with Apple Bus must be a minimum of 23 years old, have a clean driving record, and have a current, state-issued driver’s license. Apple Bus applicants must either possess or have the ability to obtain and maintain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), which includes receiving certification from the ALSDE.   All drivers must also complete a state re-certification class each year."

Apple Bus will have an opportunity to explain what happened to the school board during their meeting on Thursday at 5:30.

Apple Bus released this statement Wednesday evening to WHNT News 19:

"Upon the conclusion of all investigations, appropriate actions as necessary are swift in accordance with Apple Bus Company Policies which may include disciplinary actions up to termination."

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