By Andrew Brophy

A Westport school bus driver accused of making sexually inappropriate comments to Coleytown Middle School students as he drove them to school last month, followed by an alleged tirade on the afternoon route, has been arrested.

Daniel Florio, 44, of Norwalk, turned himself in at police headquarters Tuesday afternoon and was charged with risk of injury to a child, threatening and breach of peace.

Reacting to the arrest, Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon said, "In reviewing the charges, I was pleased to see that the police investigation came to the same conclusion my investigation disclosed -- that there was no physical inappropriate sexual behavior involved with this incident."

Landon declined further, including on parents' criticism of how the issue was handled by school administrators.

Florio, according to Cliff Gibson, chief operating officer at DATTCO, the transportation contractor for the school system, has been fired by the company. "The school district requested he not be put back in service so we released him," Gibson said Wednesday. Florio had been suspended from DATTCO following the Oct. 18 incident and he was dismissed from the company within the past several days, he said.

Gibson said nothing in Florio's records indicated he was unfit to drive a school bus. "He passed background checks and criminal checks; nothing in our files to indicate any kind of a problem or he wouldn't have gotten into our training program," he said.

Florio was accused of making sexually inappropriate comments to Coleytown Middle School students as he drove them to school on the morning of Oct. 18. He then launched a tirade when he picked them up in the afternoon for the return trip home, according to parents of the students.

Florio's outburst had frightened some of the students so much that they left school bus before their scheduled stops and reduced others to tears, according to parents.

Florio, however, did not touch or harm any of the students, according to the parents.

Westport police said in a statement that Florio's arrest was based on :"complaints from middle school children and their parents reporting `offensive and irrational behavior from their school bus driver.' "

"He was also allegedly making sexual comments and threatening the riders," the police statement says.

Eileen Ludy, the parent of a child on the bus, told the Westport News last week that parents were most upset that Florio was driving the afternoon route after his behavior that morning had been reported to school officials.

He was released on $10,000 bond and is scheduled to appear Nov. 29 in Norwalk Superior Court.