Anne Arundel County Public Schools is investigating an allegation that a bus driver called a third-grade student a racial slur Wednesday.
The student’s father, Delray Johnson, said his son, Haidyn, texted him on his ride home from Walter S. Mills-Parole Elementary School to say his bus driver called him the slur. The man was filling in for Haidyn’s regular bus driver, Johnson said.
Haidyn, who is African-American, said the alleged incident made him feel upset. He turned 9 on Friday, and his father said he has been tough in handling the situation.
The slur was allegedly used in the context of the driver asking Haidyn to move, Johnson said.
“It’s not appropriate at any time, with anybody. Black. White. The word shouldn’t be used,” Johnson told The Capital. “It’s degrading. But for him to use it on my son, in that way, yes, that hurt me to my heart.”
Schools spokesman Bob Mosier said the system has been investigating the allegation since Wednesday. School officials plan to talk with the parties involved, Mosier said.
He confirmed that the driver was filling in for someone else.
The driver won’t operate a bus for Anne Arundel County Public Schools until the investigation has concluded, Mosier said.
Mosier said the bus was equipped with a video camera, but the camera was not working. According to the system’s transportation webpage, many school buses are equipped with cameras or audio recorders to help monitor student conduct.
Superintendent George Arlotto issued a statement on Facebook on Friday afternoon, saying that everyone involved in the matter deserves a full due process, and they will ensure that takes place before making a conclusion and taking action.
“Let me be clear: If what the student alleges was said is true, it is unequivocally indefensible and will not be tolerated,” he wrote. “If that is the case, be assured that I will take swift and appropriate action.”
The situation involved a student, a parent, a driver and police in Annapolis, Arlotto said.
Haidyn sent a text message to both Johnson and his mother, Jodi Beck, stating that the bus driver called him the slur while he was still on the ride home. Johnson said he was at the bus stop when his son was dropped off Wednesday and spoke with the driver, who denied using the word. The driver contacted the police, according to Johnson.
Court records show no charges have been filed.
Johnson’s neighbor Kiaundria Hall shared a post about the alleged incident on Facebook. She said she heard about the alleged incident from her daughter, who is in fifth grade and rides the same bus. She said her daughter heard the comment.
“It’s totally unacceptable,” Hall said.