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Sheriff at second BEA bus incident

By Staff | Oct 21, 2012

Faribault County authorities were called to another alleged assault that occurred on a Blue Earth Area school bus.

This time, it involved two juveniles.

Chief Deputy Scott Adams says dispatch received a call around 2:55 p.m. on Oct. 4 regarding a problem on a bus north of Interstate 90, just outside of Blue Earth on Highway 169.

“We responded immediately, took the two off the bus and transported them to their parents,” says Adams.

According to officials, the bus was transporting some 15 students from the alternative school in Winnebago to Blue Earth Area High School.

“It was a physical assault involving a male and female,” Adams says.

Southern Plains Education Cooperative, at the start of this school year, began using space at the Winnebago Elementary School.

The cooperative serves the districts of Martin County West, Granada-Huntley-East Chain, Blue Earth Area, Fairmont Area, Truman, Maple River and United South Central.

An investigation has been completed and submitted to the Faribault County Attorney’s Office for review, Adams says.

Sarah Mittelstadt, director of Southern Plains, says because the students are transported by a BEA bus, the district’s policies are followed.

“I really can’t comment any further,” she says.

BEA superintendent Evan Gough says private educational data covered under state law prohibits officials from saying whether disciplinary action, if any, was taken against the students.

Gough says the students involved were not from BEA.

It’s the second time in less than a month that an assault has been reported on a district school bus.

Last month, a bus driver was charged with fifth-degree assault of a 6-year-old boy occurring on Sept. 14 and the driver has since resigned.

Sheriff Mike Gormley says he has talked with district officials about any assistance his department can provide to address disruptive student behavior.

“I offered help, even before they asked for it. I’ve told them to call 911 if a bus driver has a situation or behavior they are unable to handle,” he says.

As in the September assault, the bus was equipped with a camera.

County authorities say a video and report of the September investigation has been forwarded to school officials.

Gormley says he’s also talked with local police chiefs to see what type of assistance law enforcement can offer.

“I’ve asked school officials if they would want a deputy to ride on the Elmore bus one time and have a talk with the kids,” he says.

Blue Earth police chief Tom Fletcher says the department’s manual outlines what to do if there is alleged criminal activity on a bus.

“We’re not doing anything new from what we do now. We’ve always worked with the school and respond to any problem on a bus that’s in our jurisdiction,” he says.