Driver suspended after video appears to show Durham student being beaten up on a bus

A substitute school bus driver has been suspended with pay while Durham Public Schools investigates a video that’s been posted on social media that appears to show an elementary school student being beaten up by her classmates on the bus.

The driver was suspended after Glenn Elementary School principal Karen Kellett and district administrators learned about the video on Tuesday, according to a statement Thursday from Durham Public Schools spokesman Chip Sudderth.

School officials said that privacy laws limit what they can say about the incident. But they said in a statement the system will not tolerate bullying and that it’s their responsibility to protect each of their students.

“This unfortunate, isolated incident is not reflective of Glenn students nor our community,” Kellett said in a statement. “Safety is our top priority. Durham Public Schools’ policies regarding this incident have been enforced.

“Glenn Elementary School has two primary goals. First and foremost, we are focused on safety and transforming the culture of our school. In addition, we want to ensure the academic goals of our students are achieved. We appreciate the outpouring of community support regarding this incident.”

ABC11, the News & Observer’s media partner, reported that the victim’s parents learned about the incident, which happened last week, from the video. ABC11 said that the student, whose braids are being pulled as she’s punched in the head and face, is getting counseling.

A spokeswoman for the Durham County Sheriff’s Office said they’re aware of the video and are investigating the incident. But she said they can’t discuss any further details, including whether juvenile petitions might be sought, because of the age of the students.

Every Durham school bus has had security cameras installed since 2014, after a report of a sexual assault occurred on a bus. Police later said that no assault had happened.

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.