TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — An altercation at a bus stop led to early morning chaos for students and parents in Tampa, Florida. The Hillsborough School District said bad behavior by parents was to blame, but parents are blaming the bus driver.
Parents of students at Tampa Bay Boulevard Elementary School contacted Nexstar’s WFLA after witnessing a confrontation between a father and a bus driver at a bus stop before their children were dropped off at school.
“He [the father] got on the bus because his daughters wouldn’t sit down,” one parent, Lakeisha Brown, recalled. “He told his kids to sit down (and) the bus driver started telling him, ‘Hey, you can’t be on the bus. It’s trespassing.'”
Brown said the driver and the parent started arguing. The father reportedly yelled profanities, according to a police report, then got off the bus. A video shows the bus driver close the doors and drive off for a moment, then stop. Parents upset by the argument started yelling and running toward the bus, trying to get their kids off it.
“The kids were banging on the windows. I was banging on the door, other parents were as well. Finally, the back comes open. One of the kids open[s] the emergency exit,” said Brown.
Tampa police said a number of kids went out the emergency exit, as instructed by adults. No one was hurt during the incident.
One parent, Paige Jones, tried to get onto the bus through the exit door as it was moving.
“I was actually trying to get onto the bus because he refused to let our kids off of the bus,” Jones said.
The district said Jones was trespassing. Once the kids are on the bus, they’re required to stay there until they get to school.
Police identified the bus driver as Alpheria Wright.
According to a preliminary police report, officers arrived at the school and approached the bus, where Wright was waiting to be interviewed. After being unable to locate a student’s cell phone on the bus, an officer brought the student to the bus to see if he could locate it.
Police said after several warnings, Wright failed to comply with the officer’s instructions and intentionally shut the bus doors several times against the officer, who stood in the doorway of the bus.
Wright was arrested and charged with obstructing an officer without violence.
Tampa police are still working to identify the man who entered the bus at the stop.