Several students voluntarily went to the hospital this week after they claimed their substitute bus driver slammed on the brakes so hard it sent them head-first into the seats in front of them.
While Rutherford County School district officials said that's not the case, they admit the driver stopped rapidly, because the kids were not listening and obeying the driver's instructions.
Rachael Yantz, her sister and two friends haven't ridden the bus since the incident Tuesday aboard bus No. 122.
"Because I don't want to risk something like this happening again," Yantz said.
The teenager said there was a boy sitting on his leg, rather than his backside, when the bus driver asked him to sit down all the way in his seat.
"The driver told the boy to sit down or he would have to move to the front of the bus. The boy said, 'Well, I'm about to get off anyway,'" Yantz said.
The next thing they knew, Yantz said, everyone was being tossed forward.
"The bus driver immediately slammed on the brake and came to a complete stop, and all the kids got slammed into the seat in front of them," Yantz said
She later went to the emergency room at Rutherford St. Thomas Hospital to be checked out, suffering from neck pain and may have re-aggravated an old injury to her arm.
She said five students that she knows of were also treated, including a student who was diagnosed with a nasal contusion and a neck sprain after hitting his head on the bus seat in front of him.
School district officials said there were several students being defiant, yelling and using profanity. But students say that was only after the abrupt stop.
School transportation officials reviewed the video from aboard the bus. They said the students are off-base about how the bus came to a stop. They say the driver stopped quickly but didn't slam on the brake.
"The video shows the driver was traveling at 30-31 mph and slowed to 22 mph, 13 mph, 6 mph and then 0 mph over the course of a few seconds," said school district spokesman James Evans.
School officials say, at first, no student complained to the driver about being hurt, but one girl did mention it to responding deputies.
Eric Yantz called for officers after receiving frantic calls from his daughters Tuesday.
"If kids are being so unruly that you need to pull over and stop driving, you should be able to pull over in a controlled manner where you're not flinging kids into the seat in front of them," Eric Yantz said.
Officials said the substitute driver is a contract employee, as are all bus drivers. They say he has a clean record and will continue to run the afternoon route on bus No. 122 until the regular driver returns from medical leave.
"The district values its partnership with parents and has procedures in place to keep students safe on buses," Evans said. "Parents are encouraged to talk with their children about the importance of following bus drivers' instructions, which are meant to keep students safe."
Channel 4 News asked for a copy of the surveillance video or to be allowed to view it, but the district's spokesman denied the request, citing the confidentiality of the students.
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