ROCKDALE COUNTY, Ga. — Parents reached out to WSBTV after a picture showing children standing on a school bus in Rockdale County circulated on social media. The photo is now part of a Rockdale School District investigation into a bus driver.
Some parents said their children are being forced to stand on a moving school bus, and they believe it's not because the vehicle is overcrowded.
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"There (are) clear seats to the right of the students, and only the white students are being made to stand up," parent Aaron Chase said.
Chase said the photo showing his two boys standing on the bus makes him furious.
Several other parents said they have been complaining about the bus driver for weeks. They said there are safety issues with children standing and claimed the minority students never have to do it.
The bus driver, who is African-American, is now the focus of an investigation.
WSBTV's Matt Johnson spoke with Chase's 11-year-old son, with his dad's permission, about what bus rides to and from Davis Middle School have been like for the past six weeks.
"We have to hold onto the seats pretty tight so we don't fall over," the child said.
Georgia law allows school buses to operate with 20 percent above the designed seating capacity, but some kids said attempts to sit in open seats are denied.
"She says, 'Young man, get out of the seat or we're not going to go nowhere,'" the child said.
In a statement, school district officials said, "We certainly do take all allegations seriously and will give it the necessary time to completely investigate and find the facts of the situation."
The mother of a child seen on video throwing punches on the same bus said her son was punished indefinitely for defending himself.
"The bus driver told him he has to sit in the very front seat, that no one can sit there with him, that no one can speak to him," she said.
While the investigation is underway, Chase said he worries about the message getting through to children.
"She has demonstrated that it's OK to do this to other kids," Chase said.
Chase's two sons have been assigned a new driver this week, but they said they worry about the other kids still with her.
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