South Sound News

Parents want answers after traumatic bus ride for students in Lakewood

Students aboard bus 678 in the Clover Park School District experienced a chaotic ride to school Wednesday morning. Sofie Lindenfeld was one of the students on the bus. She said another student suffered a seizure and the bus driver didn’t do enough to help.

“I was screaming at the bus driver to like pull over because she was having a seizure then he started yelling at me because I was in the aisle way,” Sofie said. She said she was trying to help the student but the bus driver threatened to write her up.

“We told him to put her on her side and he refused to let me put her on her side as she was sitting there having a seizure on her back,” she said. KIRO 7 reached out to the school district about what happened and they provided a timeline of what they said happened

“Within 23 seconds of students notifying the driver that a student was in distress, the driver pulled over to the side of the road,” the Clover Park School District said. However, Sofie said that isn’t true

“No it was four minutes until the driver pulled over to the side of the road as there was a bunch of other kids screaming at him telling him that she was having a seizure and he didn’t care,” she said. The district went on to say in their statement that, “He walked to the back of the bus to check on the student and radioed for assistance. The situation caused some students to become upset. The bus driver directed students to sit in their seats and be quiet so that he could address the situation.”

Again, Sofie disputed that account.

“That never, that never, no—he didn’t even do that, no he screamed at us and he didn’t ask us to sit in our seats he told us to be quiet or he’s going to write us up over sitting there trying to tell him to move her over to her side so she didn’t choke on her own tongue,” Sofie said.

The district’s statement continues with, “In addition to 911 being called, the school’s assistant principal, nurse and nurse assistant as well as a transportation supervisor were dispatched to the scene and arrived within 10 minutes of the request for help.” Sofie said that isn’t accurate either.

“The request for help happened like 10 minutes after the seizure happened and they showed up like five seconds after Lakes called Thomas about it,” she said.

Now, Sofie’s mom, Kellie Jodot Leslie and a handful of other parents are demanding the driver be removed.

“We want to see him gone. We understand that there’s a shortage and stuff like that for bus drivers but at the end of the day our kids come first,” Kellie said.

The district also said, “Ensuring the safety of students is our paramount priority, which includes when they are traveling to and from school. As is our practice, our district is reviewing our safety protocols to ensure fidelity in our response.”

Due to this incident and others, Kellie is no longer allowing her daughter to ride the bus. Chelsea Winters, who is also a parent, said her son won’t be either.

“My son finally voiced up and he did not want to ride the bus anymore and that he was afraid you know, he just didn’t want to deal with that driver because of the trauma,” Winters said. Parents and students said this isn’t the first time they’ve had issues with this driver. One parent told KIRO 7 that last December her daughter had a broken hand and asked the driver if he could stop driving erratically. She said, the driver then began purposefully brake checking, causing further damage to her daughter’s hand. That mom said she reported this to the dean of students but nothing was done.

“Seems to just be dead ends everywhere we go,” Kellie said.

Parents and students told KIRO 7 the driver was still behind the wheel on Thursday but on Friday he was not driving. The school district said he has been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of the investigation.

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