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Cops refer school bus driver outburst to prosecutors, but Landon has little to say

Updated 8:00 am, Thursday, November 15, 2012
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The incident in which a school bus driver was accused last month of making sexually inappropriate comments to Coleytown Middle School students, followed by a tirade, was the subject of scant comments at Monday night's Board of Education meeting.

Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon said a parent had raised questions at the previous board meeting about how school administrators address complaints from students, "in particular the bus situation."

"I've investigated that incident fully. As a result of that, I looked at our policy and looked at our procedures," Landon told the school board. He said he intends to look further at procedures to ensure incidents involving sexual harassment or other unacceptable behavior are treated very seriously "as we did in this case," and that investigations into such accusations "are rapid and complete, and communications are informed with all of our parents."

Landon said he is not proposing any changes to the school district's policies or procedures at this point. "If there are any changes recommended, I will certainly come forward with them," he said.

None of the school board members commented Monday night after Landon's brief report.

However, police Capt. Sam Arciola said Tuesday that police have closed their investigation into the Oct. 18 incident and submitted paperwork to the Office of the State's Attorney. Police now are waiting to hear back on whether the driver would be criminally charged, he said.

Cliff Gibson, chief operating officer at DATTCO, Westport's school bus contractor, said Tuesday the driver remains suspended from the company pending the outcome of the investigation. "We're holding him out until we find out what the facts are," he said.

Gibson said DATTCO cooperated with police and gave them requested information. "It's in the Police Department's hands. That's what we're waiting for," he said.

The bus driver, who has not been identified, did not touch or hurt any of the students, Eileen Ludy, who had a sixth-grader on the bus, said Tuesday. Ludy said the driver made inappropriate comments about his sexual experience and students' sexual activity on the morning run and then berated students on the afternoon run to such an extent that some students left the bus before their scheduled stops because they were frightened and others were in tears. She said her son was looking for an emergency exit on the bus in case he had to flee.

Ludy said Tuesday that the school board's policies should be changed because the driver was still behind the wheel of the bus on the afternoon run Oct. 18 after several students had reported to a guidance counselor that he had made sexual comments to students on the morning run.

"That's why we parents are really incensed about this. Somebody dropped the ball somewhere," she said. "Going forward, if a whole bunch of kids come off the bus saying he's acting weird, they should make sure the driver is not driving the afternoon run."

"In this case, the policy and procedures didn't work. That needs fixing," Ludy said.

Landon wasn't available Tuesday morning to respond.

Ludy said she wants school principals to be able to pull a bus driver off a route. "All I want is for the principal to be empowered," she said, adding that Coleytown Middle School Principal Kris Szabo is "a great principal" and "takes the job of protecting kids seriously."