A bus driver in southern Minnesota is facing a misdemeanor charge of fifth-degree assault after prosecutors accused her of slapping a first-grader across the face.
Yet, while some people who spoke with FOX 9 News said they were appalled to learn of the charges, some said they think the kid deserved it.
"A couple of the Elmore buses, they have a lot of problems with kids being rowdy and fighting," Melonie Schiefelbein said.
Schiefelbein adding that the roughhousing got out of hand on her 6-year-old son's route a couple of weeks ago. In fact, the first-grader admits he had been acting up.
The criminal complaint against the driver says the boy continued to kick some other kids until 72-year-old Jane Brooks pulled over the bus and called the Blue Earth Area School District twice for help. She was told to isolate the boy in the front seat.
"He told me that he had been fighting with another kid and had to get pulled to the front of the bus, and there was some girls across the aisle and some kids taunting him," Schiefelbein said.
Faribault County Attorney Troy Timmerman told FOX 9 News the boy didn't stop acting out when he was moved to that seat, and that's when the bus driver took matters into her own hands.
"At one point, he was spitting on the children in the seat behind him and that's when she slapped him," Timmerman said.
The 6-year-old got a bloody nose, and the complaint states that Brooks told the other students on the bus, "Well, maybe that's what he needed."
"This is a very difficult case to decide what to do," he said. "I can sympathize with the need of the bus driver to maintain order and discipline. At the same time, you can't turn your back on a case where someone slaps a 6-year-old in the face."
As word spread around town about what may have happened, many people were hesitant to go on camera because it's a small town where everyone knows one another. Most of the people sided with the bus driver, saying the boy was out of control.
"Every indication I have is that she's been a really good bus driver. She's never had any problems in the past," Timmerman said.
Friends say Brooks has been a bus driver for at least 15 years and also works at the local nursing home. Now, this could be the end of both careers.
"He's six. I don't care what he did. I don't condone his bad behavior at all the, but he didn't deserve any of that," said Schiefelbein. They can side with her all they want. I don't think she deserves any praise. 'Oh, poor Jane.' No, she doesn't deserve that."
The Blue Earth Area Schools superintendent says the district cannot comment on the case because it is a personnel matter, but the district has launched an internal investigation.
KDFW FOX 4
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