Cloquet bus incident still under investigationAn incident involving a school bus driver allegedly assaulting a first-grade student April 25 is still under investigation, Cloquet City Attorney Frank Yetka said Wednesday.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
An incident involving a school bus driver allegedly assaulting a first-grade student April 25 is still under investigation, Cloquet City Attorney Frank Yetka said Wednesday.
The Cloquet School District e-mailed parents and staff Monday to clarify the assault allegations facing a former school bus driver.
“The driver is being investigated for allegedly pulling the hair of a first-grader or doing some similar action to gain compliance with his directives to the student,” Superintendent Ken Scarbrough wrote in the e-mail message. “There is no allegation being investigated in this case of such an assault as sexual fondling or beating of a child. At this time, the investigation is not completed, and no charges have been filed.”
Scarbrough said Wednesday that he sent the message so parents would not be concerned that the incident was something even more serious.
According to Cloquet Police, the incident under investigation allegedly occurred last Thursday, April 25. The student — who attends Churchill Elementary School in Cloquet — did not require medical attention and his parents were notified by police of the allegations.
The Cloquet Transit Company fired the bus driver, police said in a press release Friday, adding that once the police investigation is complete, it will be sent to the city attorney’s office to see if charges are warranted.
On Wednesday morning, Cloquet Deputy Police Chief Terry Hill said the police had concluded their investigation, but Yetka said later that day he had more questions.
“We’ve gotten some information and we’ve requested more information,” Yetka said. “We have not reached a final decision. Once we get everything, we will determine what — if any — charges would be warranted.”
Cloquet Transit Company officials declined to comment on the incident, noting only that Cloquet Transit follows all state rules, regulations and state statutes regarding student transportation.
While state statute does allow for reasonable force “when it is necessary under the circumstances to correct or restrain a student or prevent bodily harm or death to another,” it does prohibit corporal punishment by any employee or agent of the school district.
According to state statute 121A.58: “An employee or agent of a district shall not inflict corporal punishment or cause corporal punishment to be inflicted upon a pupil to reform unacceptable conduct or as a penalty for unacceptable conduct.” Corporal punishment is defined as “(1) hitting or spanking a person with or without an object; or (2) unreasonable physical force that causes bodily harm or substantial emotional harm.”
Yetka said he expects to make a decision this week.