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Unruly LRHS students stall morning school bus

MANATEE — A school bus driver fed up with unruly students refused to drive them any further, pulled over on the side of the road this morning and waited for authorities.

At about 8:30 a.m., the driver pulled over the bus headed to Lakewood Ranch High School and stopped the bus on the eastbound shoulder of State Road 64, just east of the Carlton Arms apartments.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Dwayne Denison said the driver first called school district transportation officials to report more than a dozen students being unruly on the bus, including rocking the vehicle so much the driver had safety concerns.

After the driver stopped the bus, a school district van took students who the driver identified as not misbehaving on to the high school, Denison said. Parents of those students thought to be involved were called to the bus to pick up their children.

Lakewood Ranch High School principal Mike Wilder came to where the bus was stopped and said the driver did the right thing in pulling the bus over and calling for help.

“Safety is paramount on our buses,” said Wilder. “I want to make it clear to parents and students that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated whatsoever.”

Wilder said surveillance video of the incident captured on the bus will be reviewed and students identified for disciplinary action. He said witnesses have already been interviewed this morning at the school. The bus had picked up students from neighborhoods around Johnson Middle School in Bradenton, Wilder said.

The students are not just in hot water with school officials. More than a half dozen sheriff’s deputies responded to an emergency call from the school district when the bus driver stopped and reported the bad behavior.

Deputies will also be reviewing the video from the bus in order to file disorderly conduct charges against as many students as they can identify causing disruptions on the bus. The driver also wrote and signed several complaint affidavits.

“They need to realize that we are not going to condone this kind of behavior,” Denison said.