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Charges filed against BEA bus driver

By Staff | Sep 30, 2012

While a Blue Earth Area School District bus driver has been charged with assault, the mother of a first-grader has pulled her son out of the school district.

Jane Elizabeth Brooks, 72, of Elmore faces one count of fifth-degree assault, which is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

A court complaint says Brooks slapped a 6-year-old boy in the face after he was told to stop spitting on others on the bus.

Another rider on the bus went to check on the boy and saw he was bleeding.

When Brooks was told she did not have to slap the boy, she allegedly replied, “Well, maybe that’s what he needed.”

Meanwhile, Melonie Schiefelbein of Elmore says after the incident on Sept. 14 she had to drive her son to school every day in Blue Earth.

“He didn’t want to ride the bus anymore because he was scared to death,” she says.

According to the sheriff’s office, they received a phone call around 6 p.m. regarding an alleged assault that occurred on the bus.

A couple of other incidents with students convinced Schiefelbein to send her son to North Iowa Community Schools in Buffalo Center.

“It was the best thing to do. I didn’t want anybody retaliating or taking it out against him,” she says.

BEA officials are citing Data Privacy Practices on why they are saying nothing regarding the bus driver’s current employment status.

The district’s attorney, Michelle Finney, says from BEA’s perspective the investigation is pending.

“If it gets to disciplinary action being taken, then the status of the individual can be released,” she says. “The school district has not gotten to that point yet, of what is going to happen.”

Finney says she has not received any information from law enforcement investigations or what legal action, if any, the county attorney is considering.

Should school officials have to take disciplinary action, says Finney, board action may not be necessary.

According to a court complaint, the county’s investigation involved interviewing Brooks, students who were on the bus, school personnel, the alleged victim and viewing a video from the bus’ camera system.

Brooks reportedly had to stop the bus twice during the route to deal with the 6-year-old boy’s disruptive behavior.

The first time, the boy was asked to move to a seat behind her’s after hitting a smaller child on the head with his book bag and football and making them cry.

When the boy refused to move, Brooks used physical force.

The complaint says the boy then started kicking children across the aisle from him.

When other riders in the front of the bus reported this to Brooks, she stopped the bus.

She asked other students if they would sit with the boy and act as a babysitter, but none were willing to do so.

Brooks reportedly radioed the school for assistance, but was told no one was able to help her at the time.

She was instructed to move all the other children away from the 6-year-old. As she was doing so, the boy allegedly spit on a girl sitting behind him.

The boy was told to stop spitting, but continued.

That’s when Brooks reportedly slapped the boy in the face.