The Washougal School District is investigating a bus incident that allegedly caused injuries to several students earlier this month.
In a news release, the district states that one of its Gause Elementary School bus drivers slowed down “abruptly in response to possible student behavior concerns” on the afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 1.
“When the bus slowed abruptly, some students hit the seat in front of them,” the news release states. “We are working with local law enforcement, and they will also conduct an investigation into this incident. Because this is an active investigation, and in order to respect student and employee privacy, we are unable to share additional details at this time.”
The mother of a Gause Elementary School student told The Post-Record her child said the bus driver “slam(med) on the brakes after the kids started chanting that they wanted their old bus driver.”
“This supposedly resulted in a few injured students, as well as many scared children, and frustrated and concerned parents,” the mother, who did not want to be identified, told The Post-Record. “While I understand how disrespectful and distracting the kids could have been, I’m concerned about the driver reacting that way to elementary children. … I am quite worried about who they are allowing to drive our children to and from school.”
Once school district leaders became aware of the situation, they “immediately” assigned another staff member to drive the bus,” according to the district.
“The staff member involved in the incident is not driving while we sort this out,” the district stated in a news release. “We are investigating this incident to better understand exactly what happened and how we can create the safest environment possible on our buses in the future. We are in the process of reaching out to each family.”
Several community members wrote about the incident on social media, claiming one student’s nose was broken and another student’s teeth were knocked loose.
The district has not confirmed information about any student injuries related to the incident.
“First and foremost, the safety of our students is our highest priority,” the district stated in its news release. “We are reviewing our staff training protocols to ensure they align with best practices for safety and student support while on the bus. Our students will also receive additional guidance about what is and is not safe behavior while riding our buses. We appreciate the families who brought the situation to our attention so we could respond. We always take any report of a safety concern seriously, and we are gathering information to support our families as we investigate this situation.”