Franklin Township Community School Corp. responds to bus assault lawsuit
Superintendent: 'We take safety very seriously'
INDIANAPOLIS - The Franklin Township Community School Corp. is responding to being named as a defendant in a lawsuit involving a school bus assault.
"We take safety very seriously," wrote Superintendent Flora Reichanadter in an email to Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney Friday morning. "The review of policies and procedures are (sic) on-going in order to maintain a safe environment."
In August, Caleb Jones was beaten on a school bus by a then 15-year-old student, resulting in three staples to his head.
Jones, along with his brother Jonathan, filed a lawsuit on Sept. 26, 2012, against the alleged bully and his mother, whom RTV6 is not identifying because he is a juvenile.
On Thursday, Jones' attorney, Chris Wyant, filed an amended complaint adding the Franklin Township Community School Corp. as a defendant.
The complaint claims the school district was negligent in the assault.
"We did not receive a copy of the lawsuit prior to your e-mail but are fully investigating the updated complaint as we do anytime a concern is brought to our attention whether it is a lawsuit or concern in general," Reichanadter wrote.
A cellphone video posted on Facebook and later removed shows the bus driver come into the shot during the fight.
"Come on guys, you can't do that," the bus driver said before walking away.
"Our understanding is that when the school year started, this young boy had been bullying many students on the bus, including Caleb, and the bus driver was aware of that," said Wyant. "It appears from what we've found, the bus driver was not properly trained on how to deal with situations."
The Call 6 Investigators found Franklin Township does not have a written policy for bus drivers on how to handle fights.
"Our student handbook addresses student behavior and consequences in school and for our buses," Reichanadter wrote. "Our transportation director continues to review the driver handbook."
The Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana State School Bus Drivers Association both recommend school districts provide guidance to bus drivers on the issue.
"A school corporation should have some type of written guidance for drivers in dealing with discipline and other related issues," said Ron Chew, president of the Indiana State School Bus Drivers Association, in an email to Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney.
"I think that's a real concern," said Wyant. "It raises the question, were the bus drivers adequately trained and told how to deal with these situations or were they not?"
Jones filed a tort claim against the Franklin Township Community School Corp., dated Oct. 4, saying the school district failed to call emergency personnel even though he was bleeding profusely.
"As a result of the School Corporation's negligence, Caleb Jones and Jonathan Jones have suffered personal injuries, pain and suffering, permanent injuries, scarring, emotional injuries and future pain and suffering," read the tort claim.
The boys' mother, Lora Hoagland, pulled her sons out of school and now home schools them.
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