Lawsuit: Franklin Township Schools negligent in school bus assault

School district named as defendant

INDIANAPOLIS - The Franklin Township Community School Corporation has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit involving a school bus assault.

In August, Caleb Jones was beaten on a school bus by a then 15-year-old student.

Doctors placed three staples to Jones head as a result of his injuries.

Caleb Jones, along with his brother Jonathan, filed a lawsuit on Sept. 26 against the alleged bully and his mother, whom RTV6 is not identifying because he is a juvenile.

Jones' attorney Chris Wyant filed an amended complaint Thursday adding the Franklin Township Community School Corporation as a defendant.

The complaint claims the school district was negligent in the assault.

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 .

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," Ron Chew, president of the Indiana State School Bus Drivers Association, said 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?"

In September 2012, the school district said it was looking into changes.

"Procedures regarding bus drivers and fighting are under review," wrote Dr. Flora Reichanadter, Franklin Township superintendent, in an email to RTV6.

Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney contacted Dr. Reichanadter Thursday as well as school district attorney Charles Rubright, but did not hear back.

Jones filed a tort claim against the Franklin Township Community School Corporation, 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 homeschools them.

Hoagland told RTV6 any monies collected would go to medical expenses or trust accounts for both boys.

"I want it to be clear, my children are suing the School Corporation, not myself," wrote Hoagland in a message to RTV6 Thursday. "Policies need to be put in place to handle these situations and bus drivers need revised handbooks showing how to handle these situations. Accountability, once again, it is time for them to be accountable for the lack of the motivation to make things better for these kids."

The mother of the alleged bully in the bus video contacted RTV6 Thursday evening to say her son does not go to Franklin Township School Corporation any longer and has not had any contact with Caleb Jones.

"He's been charged and did his time for the crime," said the mother, whom RTV6 is not identifying because the teen is a juvenile.  "This was a school bus fight, and this was the first time my son and that boy ever had words."

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