Caught on cam: School bus driver beaten

DALLAS, TX (KDFW) -- A school bus assault that was caught on video six months ago shows three junior high students beat up their driver, and FOX 4 News found out there's no criminal case yet.

However, that seems to have changed after FOX 4’s James Rose started asking questions on Friday.

The bus is owned and operated by Dallas County Schools, the transportation organization which provides buses and drivers for many area school districts.

The video is from cameras onboard the bus and was leaked to FOX 4 by a source who was upset that there was no criminal investigation into the attack.

On Feb. 12, a bus driver for Dallas County Schools was on his route, carrying Richardson Independent School District students to Forest Meadow Jr. High School in Lake Highlands.

At one point, the bus driver pulls over after one of the students throws a Dr. Pepper bottle toward the bus driver, hitting the windshield.

Then the driver stops the bus, gets up and stands in the aisle. 

There's no clear audio, but words are exchanged between the driver and some of the students.

The driver picks up his two-way radio and appears to be alerting dispatch or a supervisor about what's going on.

Seconds later, several students heads toward the driver.

The driver and one student exchange pushes.

Then, that student starts throwing punches, and so do some other students.

In the melee, the driver swings once and misses.

As he's falling back out the bus doors, several students continue the attack, knocking and punching him through the doors of the bus and onto the ground.

Other students get off the bus, jockeying for position to try and get a good view of the violent attack on the driver.

Criminal defense attorney Pete Schulte, who is a former deputy sheriff and former prosecutor, does not represent anyone in this case, but saw the video and offered his opinion.

"There's obviously some detail there about what exactly took place before the altercation, but there is clearly an assault there,” said Schulte.

Richardson ISD says three students were suspended after they learned of the attack.

However, since the driver is an employee of transportation company and not the district, Richardson ISD is not responsible for initiating a criminal investigation.

FOX 4 went to Dallas County Schools and starting asking questions. The organization’s police chief, Scott Peters, says he was unaware of the video, saying it was never brought to his attention but that he will begin an investigation immediately.    

“The bus driver is the adult in charge,” said Schulte. “These are middle schoolers. They have to listen to the authority that's on that bus, and when they don't and they start throwing punches, that's a crime."

By phone, Chief Peters says it is clear someone dropped the ball on this case.

He says the driver's protocol would be to contact dispatch and the dispatcher would then send Dallas County Schools police officers to assist the driver, and if deemed necessary, arrest the teens who assaulted the elder driver.            

That did not happen; he plans to find out why.          

Dallas County Schools have one of the most advanced fleets of busses with cameras inside and outside of the bus.

Some can transmit live pictures and audio, but it's not clear if all of the busses are equipped with those bells and whistles yet

However, the goal in outfitting these busses with panic buttons and live feed cameras was to ensure students and drivers are safe, and if there is an incident, the command center could immediately put eyes on the situation and handle it.          

The driver has not been identified, but he was able to get back on the bus and drive the remainder of the students to their stops.

But FOX 4’s source says the driver did go to the hospital afterwards to get checked out.

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