Report: Bus driver let angry driver board to berate students over chucked water bottle

When a student tossed a plastic water bottle out of a school bus last week, they probably expected it to stay put.

If so, they didn’t account for the driver who was behind the Beaufort County School District bus, which had stopped to unload at Heritage Lakes in Bluffton. The female driver got out of her car, grabbed the bottle and boarded the bus, where she proceeded to scream and toss the bottle at a student’s face, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report on the Sept. 22 incident.

The older sister of the female victim reported the assault to deputies the same afternoon. The girl had a red spot where the bottle had struck her face, but was not seriously injured, the report said.

The report did not identify who threw the bottle out the window, or who boarded the bus. The sister simply told deputies an unidentified woman boarded the bus shouting angrily about the thrown bottle, and tossed it back at students as she was getting off

The driver “did nothing to prevent the female from boarding the bus and did nothing while she was yelling and screaming,” the report says.

It was unclear Tuesday morning whether the district has taken any action against the bus driver, who was not identified in the report.

The Sheriff’s Office investigation is ongoing, according to Capt. Bob Bromage.

The school district cannot release information about individual students’ discipline, but spokesman Jim Foster said Tuesday that there would be consequences for throwing anything off a school bus.

“That clearly is against the rules and if it could be confirmed that a student threw something off a bus, the student would be subject to discipline,” Foster said.

In June, the district heightened its approach to bus discipline by creating a three-strikes rule that would suspend riding privileges for unruly students.

If someone breaks three Level II violations or higher on the bus — like inappropriate physical contact or using profanity — they can be kicked off for the remainder of the school year. The district can also revoke riding privileges on a first offense for the most serious violations, like weapons possession.

The rule change was spurred by what superintendent Jeff Moss called out-of-hand behavior on some buses.

“You really don’t want one student or two students endangering the lives of all the other riders,” he said in June.

Rebecca Lurye: 843-706-8155, @IPBG_Rebecca