Paulding Co. bus driver says she was trying to get students to ‘safe location’

A verbal altercation between the driver and parents turned physical after the driver tried to get a parent off the bus.
A substitute bus driver in Paulding County has been suspended after a viral video surfaced on social media.
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 5:59 PM EST
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DALLAS, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A Paulding County School bus driver claims she was trying to get students onboard her bus to a “safe location” following an incident that’s since gone viral online.

The driver, who asked not to be identified, said she was not trying to kidnap children, as some parents asserted. She said she was attempting to take the kids back to school following a physical altercation between her and a parent.

“I thought it was to make sure those babies were brought to a safe location,” the driver said. “That’s why I was headed back to school before I was blocked by parents in the middle of the road.”

On Wednesday, parents of Allgood Elementary School frantically tried getting their children off a Paulding County School bus after the driver, a substitute, refused to let some kids off because they didn’t have a yellow tag, an identifier for students who aren’t allowed to exit the bus alone.

The back and forth between the driver and parents turned physical after the driver tried to get a parent off the bus. Moments later, parents were seen on cellphone video pulling their kids from the windows and emergency door of the bus.

I can’t say I wouldn’t be a little mad if they didn’t let me have a kid, but I wouldn’t want to scare all of the other kids too,” said Diana Ward, a parent of Allgood Elementary. “After seeing the video, I think they’re all a little bit wrong.”

Georgia law states the following regarding school bus safety involving outside parties:

20-2-1182. Persons other than students who insult or abuse school teachers in the presence of pupils may be ordered to leave school premises.

  • Any parent, guardian, or person other than a student at the public school in question who has been advised that minor children are present and who continues to upbraid, insult, or abuse any public school teacher, public school administrator, or public school bus driver in the presence and hearing of a pupil while on the premises of any public school or public school bus may be ordered by any of the above-designated school personnel to leave the school premises or school bus, and upon failure to do so such person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $500.00.

20-2-1181. Disrupting public school; penalty.

  • It shall be unlawful for any person to disrupt or interfere with the operation of any public school, public school bus, or public school bus stop as designated by local school boards of education. Any person violating this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.

“It’s just sad,” said Teresa Kimber, a Dallas resident. “We have to learn how to act better than that, how to manage situations better than that. It was not a representation of Paulding County.”

It’s still unclear if the driver or any parents will be charged. the bus driver was suspended pending the outcome of the district’s investigation. There remain questions over what policies she may have broken.

Whatever the outcome, people who call Paulding County home are hoping the incident is a teaching moment for everyone.

“We kind of overreact but the most important thing is we can all learn from this and become better people,” said resident Mignon Harvey.

The Dallas Police Department, which is conducting its own investigation into the incident, said it likely won’t have an update until mid-week, next week.