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Fla. Students Suspended for Bus Assault

February 12, 2004

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Seven middle school students were suspended and a school bus driver was placed on leave after the beating of a 12-year-old student was captured on a surveillance camera aboard the bus.

The tape, which was broadcast on local and national television, shows several Landon Middle School students punching the boy for about 30 seconds last week as he cowers in his seat.

The boy, who was not seriously injured, will be allowed to transfer to another school, Marsha Oliver, a spokeswoman for Duval County schools, said Wednesday.

The students’ names were not released because of their ages. The oldest attacker is believed to be about 15, and no arrests were made, authorities said.

A hearing officer will determine the punishments for the suspended students, Oliver said. Penalties could include expulsion, she said.

The bus company, First Student, refused to identify the driver. He is on leave; a review of his conduct will take a few days, said John Ziegler, the company’s vice president.

The driver said he pulled over after making a turn and asked the victim if he needed help or wanted to return to school. After finishing the route, the driver took the tape back to the school, Oliver said.

The victim, whose name wasn’t released, told The Florida Times-Union that he believed the driver should have intervened.

``He didn’t stop the boys or anything. He just let them off at their stop,″ he said.

The bus company has a policy of not touching students to break up a fight. Last year, a Duval County bus driver was seriously injured when he tried to intervene.

Drivers are supposed to notify their dispatcher or contact the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office if there is trouble on the bus, Oliver said. While he did not do so, she said, she did praise him for retrieving the video.

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