A 68-year-old bus driver at Broken Arrow Public Schools has been fired, arrested, and charged with child abuse and kidnapping after an Oct. 13 incident that saw him refuse to let the children off his bus until they were quiet. The bus driver was identified as Thomas Young and he had been employed for about a year.
According to a spokesperson for Broken Arrow Public Schools, it was Young’s second day driving that specific route and he was already 30 minutes late to pick the kids up before the incident occurred. At one point during his route, he warned the students he wasn’t going to move the bus until everyone was quiet.
“Everybody be quiet. I’m not moving until I don’t hear any speaking,” he yelled to the students, according to surveillance video taken from inside the bus – which was shared by several outlets. “You think you can get away with stuff. I run my bus a certain way I don’t care what the other bus drivers do. You obey me.”
Kids can be heard screaming, yelling, and banging in the background and the bus driver can be seen using his arm as a shield to prevent kids from leaving through the front of the bus. It wasn’t until several students managed to escape through the emergency exit that things turned dangerous – and criminal.
Young ended up driving the bus to a nearby parking lot, where more students exited the back of the bus. “There are students who open the back of the bus and jump out while the bus is moving which is a huge safety issue,” Tara Thompson – the Broken Arrow Public Schools’ Chief Communications Officer – said.
It was in that parking lot that the police arrested Thomas Young, but they didn’t charge him with a crime until several days later – at that point, he was charged with child endangerment and kidnapping. His charges are being forwarded to the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office and his bond is set at $60,000.
“Holding the kids against their will, and the fact that those children were jumping from the school bus while he continued to drive eastbound, even at a slow speed, endangered them and put them in a dangerous situation,” said Police Capt. Josh McCoy as they continue their investigation into the incident.
Broken Arrow Public Schools Fires Bus Driver Following Incident
As a result of the incident and his subsequent arrest on Oct. 13, Thomas Young was terminated from his position at Broken Arrow Public Schools – effective immediately – after just one year on the job. It is unclear if he has retained an attorney or if he has already entered a plea as he prepares for a court date.
In the week following the incident, Broken Arrow Public Schools – which is located in Broken Arrow, OK (roughly 20 minutes from Tulsa, OK) – has received a number of complaints from parents against the bus driver and they’re ensuring students who were triggered by the incident have easy access to counselors.
“I don’t think anyone woke up that day thinking that was how the day was going to end. It’s just, it’s sad. It’s just a sad situation,” Tara Thompson said of the incident. “There were lots of things that went wrong in the scenario. The students didn’t respond well, the driver didn’t respond well.”
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