The guidelines for how a school bus driver should handle fights between students on the bus are clear, outlined in the Pennsylvania School Bus Driver's Manual published by the state Department of Transportation.
Stop the bus in a safe location. Turn off the engine and remove the key. Stand up, face the students, address them by name and state the behavior that is not acceptable. Do not physically move the student, and be "extremely cautious" about physical contact. If the behavior doesn't change, contact a supervisor or dispatcher on the radio. In each situation, notify a supervisor as soon as possible after the incident.
Those are the guidelines, but they were not the steps followed last month by a bus driver in Beaver County, according to a criminal complaint filed by the New Sewickley police, which charged bus driver Braden Hollis of Baden with endangering children.
According to an April 9 criminal complaint, when a fight between two high school students broke out on Mr. Hollis' school bus on March 4, he told other students to "clear the aisle and let them fight."
Mr. Baden, whose age was not provided, did not return messages left at the phone numbers listed in his name. Court records do not indicate whether or not he has an attorney.
Mr. Hollis, as an employee of R.J. Rhodes Transit, was operating the bus, after a bomb threat at Freedom Area School District forced students to evacuate. The bus was parked at the school district when a fight began at the back of the bus between a female student and a male juvenile student, the complaint said.
Several students told Mr. Hollis, who was in the driver's seat, about the fight. Mr. Hollis can be heard on surveillance video telling students to "let them fight," according to the complaint.
Later, the video showed the female student walking to the front of the bus. She had blood on her arms, and Mr. Hollis asked whether she was bleeding. She told him no, that it was the other student's blood. At the back of the bus, the video showed a male student bleeding from the nose. From the front of the bus, Mr. Hollis asked the boy if he needed first aid.
Mr. Hollis didn't report the fight to the school district, the complaint said. Administrators learned of the incident from the male student's parents. Rhodes Transit has said that the driver is no longer working in the school district. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 16.