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School Bus Driver Closed Door On, Mistreated Ethnic Students, Complaint Claims

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Addressing news reporters Tuesday, Brenda Mayes detailed the phone call she got from her 13-year-old son one morning last February.

“He was shaky, he was on the verge of tears,” Mayes recalled. “I was in disbelief, like I couldn’t even comprehend that it could happen, that the driver would do that.”

Attorney Robert Sykes showed reporters surveillance video from a Davis School District bus, where multiple students can be seen getting off, before the door is closed on Mayes’ son.

With his backpack closed inside, he’s pulled along the outside of the bus for 10 to 20 seconds, before bus stops again, and the doors are opened. Sykes said, based on that incident and others, he believes the driver’s actions were racially motivated toward Mayes’ mixed-race son.

“It really is kind of outrageous, the conduct that occurred here, the callousness of treating someone like this because of his race,” Sykes said. “This was an outrageous violation of the constitution of the United States.”

A complaint, filed in district court, detailed additional instances where Mayes believes the same bus driver mistreated her two sons and other students of ethnic background. The following instances are outlined in the complaint:

  • An incident where the driver failed to stop some students from bullying a student of Asian background. Mayes says her son was disciplined for standing up, after he stood up to break it up.
  • An incident where the bus driver allegedly refused to take several students of ethnic background to their bus stops. Parents had to come pick them up where they were left along the route.
  • An incident last October, where Mayes says the driver closed bus doors on her no 11 year-old son, after the doors were opened to let him through, she says the doors were then closed on his now 13 year-old son.

Mayes and attorneys said the lawsuit is being filed because of the school district’s failure to take action.

“I didn’t want to take legal action. I just wanted them to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Mayes said. “Something failed. They have a responsibility, when I put my kids, send them off to school, they have a responsibility to make sure they’re safe.”

“That is deliberate indifference,” Attorney Alyson McCallister added. “The knowledge of harassment, the knowledge of misconduct, and the failure to take any meaningful action to correct it.”

A spokeswoman for the Davis County School District released the following statement, in response:

I cannot comment on the lawsuit itself as the Davis School District has not yet been served. However, when issues of discrimination are raised at any time, they are investigated thoroughly. The Davis School District takes any claims of racial discrimination seriously and does not tolerate any form of racial discrimination in our schools. I can confirm the bus driver in question no longer works for Davis School District.