WEST ORANGE, NJ - The Alternative Press of West Orange contacted Interim Superintendent James O'Neill regarding the Sept. 18 incident involving a school bus driver and two West Orange High School students.
As noted in the West Orange Alternative Press Police Blotter for Sept. 1-18,
9/18 – Strong Arm Robbery. At around 4:00 pm a bus driver from Hunterdon Educational Services Commission dropped off approximately six WOHS students on Main Street in front of Edison Middle School. He then stopped at Franklin Avenue to drop off more students, and suspect one grabbed the driver’s Apple headphones, pushing the driver into his seat as he opposed him. The driver tried to stop suspect one by grabbing his backpack. A second suspect took the driver’s iPhone. There is surveillance footage available for review. During the altercation a minor motor vehicle crash occurred when a vehicle hit the rear of the bus.
O'Neill provided TheAlternativePress.com with an email he forwarded to the West Orange Patch regarding the article they posted on the incident:
"On September 18th there was an incident which involved one of the buses we contract to transport roughly 7,000 students. There was an incident that involved a bus driver and two students. This bus was one of the late runs from the high school transporting students who were at school late for sports or disciplinary reasons. The paper reported an altercation. That is not accurate. There was a student who took the driver’s head phones and shortly after a student who took the driver’s cell phone. The camera on the bus allowed us to identify the students and notify the police. One student is no longer enrolled in the West Orange Schools and one student has been assigned to the after school program. Both students have been reported to the police. We take all disciplinary issues seriously and address them promptly and appropriately. The driver acted inappropriately when he left the bus. He has been discharged and no longer transports West Orange students."
Review of surveillance footage from the bus also showed that he exited the bus in an attempt to go after the suspects. While doing so, the bus, which was in gear, crashed into the back of another vehicle, according to footage and students on the bus.
O'Neill was further asked how many of these types of incidents had occurred this year. His response was, "Most of the students being punished for behavior are carried over from last year. There were only a handful of incidents this year, and this incident has been the most egregious."
O'Neill added, "The incident occurred on the 18th and was dealt with by the 20th."
(Editor's Note: This article was updated on September 25.)