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County bus driver suspended after bizarre mishap

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
May 1, 2201
Lauderdale County School District officials have suspended a school bus driver while they investigate an incident in which a kindergarten student was trapped in the door of a school bus.
School district officials would not name the bus driver who was involved in the Monday incident in which Ashton Belk, a West Lauderdale Elementary kindergarten student, suffered abrasions on both legs.
Belk's parents could not be reached for comment. Lauderdale County School Superintendent David Little was out of the office until next week and could not be reached for comment.
Vick said one of the issues that will be examined in the investigation is whether Belk was dragged by the bus before the driver realized the child had been caught in the door.
John Compton, attorney for Lauderdale County schools, said the investigation will be conducted by Roger Wright, transportation supervisor for the district. Compton said it will involve taking statements from the bus driver, parents and any witnesses.
Compton said the incident was reported to the school district's insurance company.
Wright said that the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department was not notified of the incident because it didn't involve another vehicle. The incident took place at a school bus stop on Highway 495.
Wright said school bus drivers must have a commercial driver's license; he said their driving record is checked before they become bus drivers.
Drivers also periodically take refresher courses on driving a school bus. The courses are conducted by instructors from the state Department of Education.
Wright said the school district employs about 150 bus drivers, including substitutes, who cover 93 routes. He said drivers must be at least 25 and receive random drug and alcohol screenings each month.

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