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Incident on BEA bus investigated

By Staff | Sep 23, 2012

A text message from a student to a first-grader’s mother has Blue Earth Area School District officials looking into a bus driver’s alleged misconduct.

On Tuesday morning, district administrators were saying little about an incident that reportedly occurred on Friday afternoon, Sept. 14.

“We received a complaint and it is under investigation. No information is available because of data privacy,” says Dan Brod, the school’s transportation director.

Like Brod, Superintendent Evan Gough cited a state statute prohibiting them for releasing “personnel data.”

Gough would not say whether district officials are looking into the incident or if law enforcement has been contacted to investigate the complaint.

“I’m as open as they come on things, but I have to follow state law on this. I can’t comment any further,” he says.

By Tuesday afternoon, Chief Deputy Scott Adams told the Register their investigation had already been completed.

Adams says the sheriff’s office received a phone call around 6 p.m. Friday regarding an alleged assault that occurred on the bus.

He says Deputy Pat Campbell interviewed several witnesses over the weekend and a report was submitted to the County Attorney’s office on Monday for possible charges.

“We just submit the paperwork and make a recommendation. Troy (county attorney) has the final say if charges are filed,” he adds.

Timmerman says he’s been told there may be video of the alleged assault.

“If there is, I’d like to see that before I do anything,” he says.

The mother of the boy says she called school officials after receiving the text message.

Melonie Schiefelbein of Elmore says when no one returned her phone call after waiting nearly two hours, she decided to contact the Faribault County Sheriff’s office.

“This is something I thought should be looked into because it could be a serious matter,” she says.

Neither Brod or Gough would say if the bus driver remains on the job or has been placed on a leave of absence.

Mark Anfinson, an attorney with the Minnesota Newspaper Association, says under state law district officials are required to tell the public if the person is still working, has been fired, suspended, put on paid or unpaid leave.

“They have to tell you that and should let you know what the person’s employment status is,” he says.

Under state statute 13.43, the following is among the public data that can be released upon request:

the existence and status of any complaints or charges against the employee;

whether or not the complaint or charge resulted in a disciplinary action;

the final disposition of any disciplinary action;

the specific reasons for the disciplinary action;

data documenting the basis of the action.