School bus fight shocks driver

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A violent scuffle between Queenstown primary school kids rattled a school bus driver so much he drove into a pole.

A report into the November 28 incident says the driver was “shocked at the ferocity” of the attack and the “level of violence”.

While the attack ended as the driver approached, it was followed by a bad-mouthed tirade, with racial abuse hurled at another pupil and the driver.

Go Bus Transport’s Queenstown manager David Rutledge told Queenstown Primary School deputy principal Gary Marsh in December: “He [the driver] was amazed that there was no physical harm showing.”

The bus was delayed 30 minutes on Melbourne Street while the company called the school.

The rattled driver continued his run but later drove into a give-way sign, bending the pole.

The bus wasn’t damaged and there were no injuries. 

Details of the incident have come to light after an Official Information Act request by Mountain Scene.

The Go Bus driver’s signed report says he stopped the bus on Melbourne St at about 3.20pm that day because they saw two pupils fighting “extremely violently” halfway down the bus.

“By the time I got to the scene the fight was over, then the excuses began and colourful language and racial remarks began, all directed at the other pupil and myself.”

The potty-mouthed pupil “used ‘f’ word and ‘c’ word directed towards his nationality”.

The school told Go Bus if the children were safe the bus could continue - or police could be called to haul the culprit from the stationary vehicle.

This is clearly not the first incident, as one education official starts an email: “Another bus incident.”

Go Bus’ Rutledge called for the pupil - once properly identified - to be banned from travelling by bus.

It’s not clear if that was done.

The school didn’t confirm any punishment yesterday.

Queenstown Primary School principal Fiona Cavanagh says from a school camp on Stewart Island such incidents are followed up by the school’s controller and management.

Parents are then informed and consequences put in place.

“We maintain a good relationship with our school bus company.”

In his report, the bus driver was disappointed the school “wasn’t interested” when called about the incident.

Cavanagh dismisses this, saying she thinks the paper’s been misinformed.

TMinistry of Education acting head of education infrastructure Jerome Sheppard says: “The ministry concluded that the bus driver acted in the best interests of the students and did everything possible to ensure that students arrived home safely.”

david@scene.co.nz