Student threatened violence before driver threw him off school bus: company

    WATCH: The extended footage of the incident that took place inside the Edmonton school bus was released by Cunningham Transport Ltd.

    EDMONTON — Cunningham Transport Ltd. says a student threatened its driver with physical violence before the driver threw the boy off the school bus.Video of the incident, taken by another student on the bus, shows the driver stand up, grab the boy’s backpack and throw it off the bus. Then it appears the student is pushed out the door as the driver is heard saying, “get off.”The bus then drives away, leaving the student on the sidewalk.WATCH: Shocking video shows child tossed off school bus before driver pulls away In a statement released Monday, Cunningham says “there are circumstances leading up to this video that the public should see” but won’t be able to because of “FOIP issues and agreements with the Edmonton Catholic School Board.”WATCH: Global News has been provided with new video that shows the events leading up to an Edmonton bus driver’s decision to kick a student off the bus. Fletcher Kent reports.
    Cunningham provided the video to Global News with permission from the bus driver. Global News has edited it for length and to protect the identities of all the individuals involved.The video, taken from the front of the bus, shows one boy, sitting behind the driver, jump to the neighbouring seat, hit and kick the student sitting there.The video also shows a second boy walking up from the back of the bus carrying a large sports bag. The bus stops, another student gets off and it starts to drive away, which appears to upset the boy. He swings his bag and hits the driver in the side of the head, knocking his glasses askew. The driver holds his face, takes a moment, and then says something as the boy gets off the bus.Then, the video shows the first boy gesturing at the driver in the rear-view mirror. He gives him the finger and they exchange words, but it’s not clear what was said because there is no audio on the video. That boy is later kicked off the bus by the driver.Here is the statement provided to Global News by Laura Doroshenko, operations manager with Cunningham Transport Ltd.:“We are a locally-based, family-run school bus company that has operated in the Edmonton area for over 42 years. Our number one concern as a school bus company is for the safety of our students that ride our buses.“We have a video that was taken by the driver because he was repeatedly having problems with these same children. He placed the camera on the bus to record these events if they were to occur. But we can’t release the video because he did it without permission and because of FOIP issues and agreements with the Edmonton Catholic School Board.“We’d like to thank all the people that have called and/or emailed their support for our company and the driver.“The driver did make an error by letting the child off, but there are circumstances leading up to this video that the public should see. Unfortunately they will be unable to see because of these FOIP issues.
    “The driver was concerned for his safety and the safety of the other students on the bus.
    “The child in the video you have previously seen is in Grade 7. He threatened the driver with physical violence which prompted the driver’s reaction. There was no physical abuse by the driver to the child. The junior high student was asked to leave the bus and exited 10 blocks from his regular stop. Afterwards, he has said, he knew exactly where he was at the time. 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.“Physical violence had already been threatened against him and he was worried about the other students.“There is a second child on the bus that is also in question. He is a Grade 8 child and had previously exited the bus after slamming his hockey equipment bag into the side of the driver’s head knocking the driver’s glasses sideways. This is all on video. But again, it cannot be released.
    “We ask for the public to understand the driver’s reaction, but we cannot condone it. It was what happened prior to and leading up to the video in question that is the importance in understanding this situation.
    “The driver has been removed from all Edmonton Catholic runs as was requested last week, Tuesday, May 26. We are deeply sorry for the stress that was caused to the students on the bus and their parents. Again, our number one concern is our students and their safe ride to and from school.”A spokeswoman for Edmonton Catholic Schools said Monday the district had recommended the bus driver be fired, but the final decision is up to the carrier.“We know for sure that that driver will not be on anymore Edmonton Catholic School District routes,” added Lori Nagy.She said there had been problems in the past with that route.“There’s no doubt that that was a difficult route. There were many behavioural issues on the route, but the bottom line for our district is that safety of all students comes before anything else.
    “In the end, the driver is the adult. He does not let the child off – or any child off – before his stop.”
    Nagy said the district feels the driver could have responded in a more appropriate manner.“The bus driver could have radioed in, he could have called the parents… he could have stopped the bus and just said ‘it is not safe to proceed’ and wait until someone came and picked up the boy.”Nagy said she spoke with Cunningham several times on Monday.The boy who was kicked off the bus and the boy who hit the driver with the sports bag were both suspended from the bus until Wednesday.Doroshenko said the driver won’t be fired from Cunningham, but he has been taken off Edmonton Catholic routes. She said he tried to settle the child down and also tried to radio for support.“He was trying to radio into the base and at that time there was one staff member on. It was quite a busy afternoon.”
    “At the time, I couldn’t get through and didn’t get a hold of anybody at the base,” said Doroshenko.
    Doroshenko said Cunningham plans to put a new policy in place to prioritize radio calls over phone calls. The company is also looking at hiring more staff during busy times of the year.However, the company stands behind the driver, she said.“It’s a story that has to be heard in regards to what a driver has to deal with out on the road and some of the things that go on. Yes, we don’t agree with maybe his reaction to the situation… But in that particular time and place, that’s the decision that he made.”

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