ROCK HILL — Tyrie Rowell, a former Rock Hill school bus driver running for the school board, was fired by the district last year after officials said he was seen on video cursing in front of students, according to personnel records.
The incident happened on the afternoon of Jan. 31, 2011, when Rowell was driving a school bus from the districts Applied Technology Center with a handful of high school students aboard.
A video from the bus camera shows Rowell in the drivers seat voicing frustration over another school bus that apparently cut him off or prevented him from moving forward in traffic.
He used several expletives. Students on the bus laughed and did the same.
Rowell originally denied the accusations in an interview. Asked again after The Herald reviewed the bus video, he declined to comment specifically on the incident and video because he said he has not seen the video, even though he requested a copy from the district.
The incident has no bearing on his decision to run for the open at-large seat on the Rock Hill school board, he said. Three other candidates Dan Ballou, Terry Hutchinson and Wayne Wingate also are running for the seat.
Rowell, a 2009 South Pointe High School graduate, said hes running because he wants to bring a youthful perspective to the board. He recalled that as a bus driver, he would hear parents, teachers and other employees express concerns.
At the time, I said, I cant do anything because Im just a bus driver, Rowell said. Those concerns motivated him to run, he said.
I dont have anything bad to say about the school district, he said. I feel I have a good relationship with Rock Hill schools.
Losing his job was a traumatic experience, he said. But it brought me a long way and opened a new door for me.
He now works as an after-school program associate in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Rowell pointed to his record of community involvement, which includes volunteering with Meals on Wheels and his church, Galilee Baptist in York. He studied at USC-Lancaster, worked as a historical interpreter and assisted at the York County Council on Aging.
Rowell worked for Rock Hill schools for 10 months, from April 2010 until February 2011. He transported South Pointe High students to and from school, he said.
Rowell has no other disciplinary infractions in his file, which was obtained by The Herald under the states open records laws.
Before the incident, Rowell said he was a dedicated and loyal employee who was awarded a performance bonus.
After receiving a letter from the district notifying him of the job termination, Rowell appealed to Superintendent Lynn Moody, who upheld the decision to fire him.
After reviewing the bus video, Personnel Director Rebecca Partlow wrote to him, I found that you, indeed, used vulgar and inappropriate language while in the presence of students, a clear violation of the districts staff conduct policy.
Shawn Cetrone 803-329-4072