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Substitute Bus Driver Catching Charges After Viral Video Showing Him Brake Checking Unruly Riders

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Is there a more thankless job than driving a school bus? Probably, but I wouldn’t want to do any of those either. A Colorado substitute bus driver is facing some serious charges after he was caught on video sending a message to a bus full of rowdy children. The driver, 61-year-old Brian Fitzgerald can be heard on the video imploring the unruly elementary aged kids to sit down or bad things could happen. Unfortunately he decided to show them exactly what he meant.

Having grown up in an era when most students spent a lot of time on the bus, I clearly remember being extremely rowdy on the bus. I also remember my driver doing EXACTLY what Fitzgerald did. There were no cry-babies in the 70s, so it was just a lesson learned. Not so much now.

In the video provided to Fox News, Fitzgerald can be heard saying to the kids:

“You guys need to be in your seats. You guys want to see how dangerous that is?” 

Apparently that was a rhetorical question, because the kids clearly weren’t listening. Fitzgerald brake checked the unruly kids, getting their attention and sending backpacks and students sprawling. He can then be heard saying:

“Do you get that? That is why you need to be in your seat. Turn around and sit down properly. If you guys can’t do that, you will get written up, do you get that?” 

Needless to say, the students did not get the message. Several students could be heard screaming and asking what happened, and if he did that on purpose. Of course, if they had been listening to start with, it never would have happened:

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“Why is he doing – did he do that?“, one student asked.

What could have been dismissed as a teachable moment turned into a swift dismissal and catching charges. The district issued a statement.

“Riding a bus to and from school should be a happy, enjoyable experience for students. The behavior and actions of this bus driver are completely unacceptable. We are so grateful to the parents and the principal who reported this incident, allowing us to take swift action and ensure this driver was never again allowed behind the wheel of a DCSD bus.”

After the route, in an additional video the driver can be heard explaining what happened to a parent: 

“Dude, they were bouncing all over the place, and I was coming to a stop, and I hit the brakes hard, but they were running all over the place, ok? They have to sit in their seats – they would not get bounced around if they didn’t stay in their seats.”

“So I’m sorry if she got hurt, but there was 60 kids on here bouncing all over the place and I’m the substitute driver, and the driver that normally does it does not have any control on these kids, so I was trying to get them to get in their seats.” 

The driver is correct. the kids were being unruly and not listening, and with no bus monitor present, he was put in a potentially dangerous situation. Had there been an accident and one of the kids out of their seat had been seriously injured, what then?

This incident is emblematic of a much larger problem. Namely, kids aren’t being taught at home or in school to respect authority. A substitute driver in charge of 60 screaming kids, while trying to navigate a school bus in and out of traffic is dicey at best, dangerous at worst, especially if the bus is full of rambunctious kids.

Make no mistake, Fitzgerald was wrong to brake check the bus. Perhaps he should have pulled over and sat until order was restored. Whatever the solution, he was put in an untenable situation. At the end of the day, no one was hurt and he got their attention, so hopefully a lesson was learned.

Unfortunately for Fitzgerald, he is also in a pickle legally. According to Fox News:

The Colorado 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office told Fox News Digital that Fitzgerald is now facing one count of child abuse-knowing/reckless-bodily injury and 29 counts of child abuse-knowing/reckless-no injury, all misdemeanors.

Hopefully the charges will be dropped and the parents will take the opportunity to use the incident as a teachable moment for their unruly kids. Needless to say, Brian Fitzgerald won’t be behind the wheel again, and I suspect all parties, including him, are ok with that.