'They have my permission to knock him out'
A Pinellas school bus driver may be fired for reportedly telling students they had permission to "knock out" a kid who was reportedly throwing paper - which another student then reportedly tried to do.
According to a case summary in tonight's school board agenda packet (go to page 119), Eric Thomas reportedly announced over the bus intercomon Feb. 8 that, "If anybody sees (student A.D.) throwing paper, they have my permission to knock him out." About 90 seconds later, a student sitting in the back of the bus walked up to "A.D." and punched him in the face. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office investigated the incident and referred the case to the state attorney's office.
Thomas told an investigator he was kidding when he gave students permission to knock out the other kid, and said he never expected a student to follow through, the case summary said.
Superintendent Julie Janssen is recommending Thomas be fired. According to the case summary, he has been written up eight times since he began working as a bus driver in 2006 (two conference summaries, five cautions, one reprimand), including three times for inappropriate remarks to students.
He makes $19,568 a year.