Olympia bus driver accused of taunting special needs student

by: Natasha Chen Updated:

Teen says the same bus driver has been taunting her for years.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - A bus driver for the Olympia School District has been put on leave, after Washington Middle School administrators reviewed surveillance video of the driver taunting a special needs student.

The mother of 14-year-old Mariah Clevenger said her daughter had been complaining of problems with the bus driver for a couple of years.

Last week, Clevenger finally asked a teacher to look at the video recorded on the bus. School administrators allowed Louanne Bay to view a 40-second clip of that video.

Bay said she heard the driver in the video say to her daughter, “Be quiet. You always complain, you maniac.”

She also heard the driver say he would bring a beehive onto the bus. This came days after Clevenger was so scared by a bee on the bus that she refused to take the ride home.

“Mariah does not understand cause and effect. When you say, I’m going to bring a beehive, for example, she really thinks you have a beehive,” Bay said.

Bay said her daughter is bipolar and has cognitive delays.

When Clevenger talked about the incident, she said she was still “thinking about the picture in my mind about how many bees would have killed me.”

KIRO 7 asked Clevenger what comments the bus driver has made to her before.

“I’m going to hit you. I’m going to kick you off my bus,” Clevenger said. “He was saying that I was stupid, or dumb, something like that. One of those words.”

The 40-second video Bay was allowed to view did not show any of these comments. But Bay said she wonders what else has happened in the past.

“How many other videos? How many other times has he done stuff to her?” Bay said.

Bay and Clevenger both said the driver has never touched her before.

KIRO 7 asked to see the surveillance video, but a spokesperson for the Olympia School District, Conor Schober, said that it would not be released.

The district did not respond to questions about the driver’s history before this story aired.

In a statement, a spokesperson said:

“The district is treating this matter very seriously.  We learned about the inappropriate verbal exchanges last week and immediately put the driver on leave.  The district is now conducting an investigation. In the meantime, staff is committed to working with this family to ensure the student feels safe and supported on her way to school, at school and on the way home from school."