Thursday, April 19, 2018
Education

Pinellas to fire school bus driver for allegedly hitting student, fleeing scene

A Pinellas school bus driver is slated to lose her job next week after she hit a child with her bus, left the scene and waited half an hour to alert a supervisor about the accident.

The child was not seriously injured.

On the morning of Feb. 4, according to school district records, bus driver Belinda Ivey, 40, told a bus dispatcher that 30 minutes earlier "she may have hit a student that was running late."

Ivey then went out of communication for an hour as the dispatcher tried to reach her. When the dispatcher finally got through, he told Ivey to meet supervisors at the scene of the accident.

Using the route sheet, supervisors identified the girl who Ivey was said to have hit. The girl told officials she "jumped back, tripped and fell on her arm and was sore but okay," according to district records, which did not identify the girl's school.

Later, Ivey refused to cooperate with investigators, only passing a note to an administrator saying the child "did look like she was in pain" that day.

An investigation by the district's Office of Professional Standards also revealed that Ivey's commercial driving privileges had briefly been put on hold for medical reasons but that she had continued to drive the bus.

At her first meeting with investigators, Ivey "turned her back to the OPS administrator and faced the door and otherwise refused to speak," records state.

At the second meeting, Ivey asked to use the restroom and never returned.

A supervisor drove Ivey to a third meeting. District records say she "covered her face with her hands, closed her eyes and refused to speak."

The School Board will vote Tuesday on superintendent Michael Grego's recommendation that Ivey be fired.

A phone number listed for Ivey was disconnected Wednesday. If Ivey requests an administrative hearing, she will be suspended without pay until the hearing ends.

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