bus school students

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A substitute bus driver in Baton Rouge was fired Thursday, accused of forcing a Southeast Middle School student off at a stop far from where the boy lives.

The driver, Tonia Woods Scott, also has received a court summons on a count of simple battery, said Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office.

The driver was fired for misconduct as well as failing to follow safety protocols and procedures.

“The driver removed the student from the bus at a place that wasn’t the child’s stop,” explained Taylor Gast, a spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.

Kiaya Merrells said the first she knew something was wrong was when her 13-year-old son called her Wednesday afternoon. The seventh-grader told her the bus driver got mad at him when he stood up from his seat to walk to the back of the bus. The driver stopped the bus, grabbed him, cursed him and told him to get out right there, actually kicking him in the butt as he was descending the steps to force him off, the mother said.

“He was maybe a mile from the school. He wasn’t familiar with the neighborhood,” she said. “He didn’t have any idea where he was.”

Merrells said she immediately left work and drove to Southeast Middle to find that her son’s bus had returned still full of kids and that the driver had left. A school administrator was dispatched to find her son on the streets and drove him back to school.

She said she learned about what happened from Principal Amber Boyd, who took statements from the students on the bus. The regular driver of that route —”she’s firm and she’s good with kids" — was off Wednesday and the substitute driver lost control of her passengers and went too far in response, Merrells said.

“If the regular bus driver was there, (my son) would have never have gotten up out of that seat,” Merrells said.

She said her son was embarrassed by what happened Wednesday but she made him take the bus again Thursday for the last day of school for the fall semester.

“He didn’t want to, but he did go,” she said.

Email Charles Lussier at clussier@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.