A mother has accused a bus driver of kicking 17 school students of color out of his bus – although the bus company denies that it was race related.
Rebecca Mack, from Burlington, Vermont, filed a complaint with Green Mountain Transit (GMT) about the driver transporting students home from Edmunds Elementry and Edmunds Middle School.
She claims that last Thursday around 3 p.m. on bus No. 914, a group of children who sang and clapped had ejected.
& # 39; These children have just experienced something that was scary, sad and confusing and unjust, & # 39; Mack said NBC5.
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Rebecca Mack, the mother of two students who were thrown off the bus, told NBC5 she believed they were the target because of their skin color
Mack claimed that the driver of a Green Mountain Transit bus (pictured) with school students threw a group of color children out of the field singing and clapping on May 23
Mack said she believes the group, including two of her own children, were targeted because of their race.
& # 39; The bus driver focused on students of color on the bus, threatened to call the police, and let all students of color leave the bus while white students sat down & # 39 ;, Mack wrote in a widely shared Facebook post.
She said the students, between five and thirteen years old, had clapping and singing in the back of the bus before the driver stopped and forced them to get out.
Some children were scared by the driver's threats and someone ran away so fast that he lost his shoes, according to Mack.
The mother said she had some of the & # 39; sad, confused and angry & # 39; students saw after they were ejected. They asked her to film them and explain what had happened.
& # 39; As a mother and community member, I am furious at what I saw, & # 39; said Mack.
& # 39; I don't want my children or others to grow up to believe that they are endangering themselves by being joyful, by singing out loud because of the color of their skin. & # 39;
The mother involved posted her complaint to GMT on Facebook and her message was widely shared
The Burlington School District Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee opened their meeting on Tuesday with a public forum on the incident
The transit company investigates the incident and the driver has paid leave. But GMT said that his decision to kick the students off his bus was not based on race
GMT denied that racing was a factor in the driver's decision to kick the students off his bus, but said the driver was not following the business protocol.
The transportation company said the driver has paid administrative leave while the company completes its investigation into the incident.
Images from cameras on the bus showed that, contrary to the initial claim, some of the students deported by the driver were white and many of the children allowed to stay on the bus were color students.
That is according to the local media outlet Seven days, which reports that GMT has given its reporters permission to watch the video, which appeared on Monday.
& # 39; This is a very diverse group of students. I can say for sure that I don't feel like it was racist, & Jamie Smith, marketing and public affairs manager at GMT, told Seven Days.
& # 39; It's pretty clear that he ended what he thought was a group that distracted. He was not aimed at students. & # 39;
The company said the driver, who identifies himself as Nate in the images, has been working for GMT for a number of years and often picks up students on the same route.
& # 39; By watching the video so often, I can tell you that he has not followed multiple (protocols) and so we are going to look at that & # 39 ;, general manager GMT Sousa told Seven Days.
He refused to specify which rules the driver broke until the internal assessment was completed.
Burlington School District agreed with GMT's conclusion after viewing the images and speaking with students.
& # 39; Without a thorough investigation, it would be unfair to conclude that the bus driver's actions were based solely on racist prejudice, & # 39; said Russ Elek spokeswoman in a statement.
& # 39; The bus driver did not follow GMT procedures for this type of scenario. And GMT reports that they have no procedures that lead to students being removed from a bus. & # 39;
In the summer, GMT and the neighborhood will work on teaching & # 39; students, parents, and administrators about safe and respectful behavior and expectations & # 39 ;, the statement said.
Tom Chittenden, chairman of GMT, apologized and promised to discuss the incident at the next board meeting on June 18.
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