Driver is punished for choking pupil

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A Richmond County school bus driver was suspended for one day for shoving a pupil into a seat and choking him, according to records released Thursday.

Donald Bonvillain, 54, of Blythe, lost his composure when a fight broke out on his bus Nov. 5, Superintendent Dana Bedden's Jan. 6 letter states.

At one point, the pupil, who was identified by only his initials, pushed the driver. Mr. Bonvillain responded by pushing him into a seat, falling on top of him. According to witnesses, the driver's hands ended up around the Morgan Road Middle School pupil's neck.

"At no time, are you to physically push or fight with a student, even if the student threatens you," Dr. Bedden wrote. "As the adult in charge, you are to maintain your composure at all times and control the situation."

He was initially suspended for four days pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation, but three of those days were restored to him.

The pupil, 14, was given an option of suspension for the remainder of the school year or attending the alternative school, which he chose.

The incident wasn't the first in which Mr. Bonvillain has been in trouble with the school system. Dr. Bedden's letter refers to other "poor decisions," including a complaint filed less than a year ago that the driver "popped" a student on the back of the head, while referring to him with a dismissive name.

According to his personnel file, Mr. Bonvillain also received a letter of reprimand and was suspended for 10 days in 1996 for referring to students using a racially derogatory term when they wouldn't be quiet as directed. He claimed that he referred to them as "instigators." In 1998, he was suspended for five days for getting a speeding ticket.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (38) Add comment
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aintryt
189
Points
aintryt 01/16/09 - 03:03 am
0
0
If you're big and bad enough

If you're big and bad enough to step into an adult's shoes and go toe to toe with one, then don't expect to get treated with kid gloves. In other words.....if you can't hang with the big dogs then stay on the porch! (and learn some manners and respect while you're at it)

Craig Spinks
818
Points
Craig Spinks 01/16/09 - 04:07 am
0
0
Mr. Fletcher, how should an

Mr. Fletcher, how should an RCBOE employee respond if a student in the Richmond County School System attacks him or her?

karmakills123
8
Points
karmakills123 01/16/09 - 05:21 am
0
0
LOL craig.."As the adult in

LOL craig.."As the adult in charge, you are to maintain your composure at all times and control the situation."...even if little johnny is cutting your throat.......................

jebko
0
Points
jebko 01/16/09 - 05:39 am
0
0
My wife has been stabbed with

My wife has been stabbed with forks in the lunchroom...pencils in the classroom. Called B***ch,M***F**** all from kids from 2nd grade to 4th. Some are as tall and weigh as much as she does. How she restrains I just don't know. There is no respect shown at home so there is no respect out in public. Knock a few on their keesters and have the BOE stand behind you that'll show 'em.

christian134
1
Points
christian134 01/16/09 - 06:34 am
0
0
In other words Dr. Bedden if

In other words Dr. Bedden if you had a student jump you and proceed to beat you down all you would do would be to stand there and let it happen...Just because these so-called kids are young they are not without strength and much of the time they are completely without conscience. Many, like this boy, do not seem to care if you are adult or another kid...If you get in their way you are to be taken down...I, myself, believe this driver to have shown exceptional restraint...

politicallyNcorrect1
0
Points
politicallyNcorrect1 01/16/09 - 07:16 am
0
0
This driver should get a

This driver should get a raise or time off with pay. The majority of so called kids today have NO respect for anyone. They need to choked more often & Jap Slap The S*** Out Of Them!

LadyCisback
4
Points
LadyCisback 01/16/09 - 07:41 am
0
0
Children nowadays have no

Children nowadays have no manners, no home training and have no respect for adults or anybody..

lifelongresidient
0
Points
lifelongresidient 01/16/09 - 08:02 am
0
0
i am sorry the driver lost a

i am sorry the driver lost a days pay, i would be willing to contribute to make up for his lost day of pay if i knew where to send it. he should have choked the life out of that child, since the child wanted to put his hands on him. the question i have is "would dr. bedden and the school system be liable in the event the school employee retains his composure and the student assaults and injures the school employee???"

onlynaugusta
41
Points
onlynaugusta 01/16/09 - 08:20 am
0
0
No matter how bad children

No matter how bad children are, the superintendent is going to defend them. How can you maintain your composure when in a situation of that sort. Mr Bedden needs to drive the damn bus and see how long he keeps his composure. If your big enough to jump in an adult's face, then your big enough to take and accept adult actions. Children need to stay in a child's place. As long as these type of children are defended for their actions, we are going to keep getting these type of situations. In my opinion, only children who really want to learn need to be provided transportation to school. We spend too much tax payers money on dead weight. Why teach a child in an alternative school? Put them in the jail system and move on.

abc123xyz
0
Points
abc123xyz 01/16/09 - 08:30 am
0
0
I think that's a GREAT idea!

I think that's a GREAT idea! Why don't all the parents of Richmond County challenge Dr. Bedden to drive a school bus for one whole day (morning & afternoon route)?!? And I don't mean with another adult (or officer) accompanying him. I wonder if he really knows how kids are these days. I call for the challenge - how about you?!?

easy breezy
14
Points
easy breezy 01/16/09 - 08:48 am
0
0
Let's nominate him as bus

Let's nominate him as bus driver of the year!!!

sandbox
0
Points
sandbox 01/16/09 - 09:06 am
0
0
It is always easier for the

It is always easier for the person that tells you how or what to do, but does not have to do it. That desk job is a cake walk.

old school graduate
0
Points
old school graduate 01/16/09 - 09:13 am
0
0
Didn't we already go over

Didn't we already go over this in yesterday's paper?

sprintman
0
Points
sprintman 01/16/09 - 09:40 am
0
0
oldschoolgraduate it happen

oldschoolgraduate it happen richmond county you know the chroncile had to show it twice. You know when this happens in other counties. The chronicle doesn't show it. And definitely is not about to do a entire article on the subject.

sprintman
0
Points
sprintman 01/16/09 - 09:41 am
0
0
This is why the metro spirit

This is why the metro spirit is doing very good. And morris communciation the chronicle is in finacial troubles. Nobody wants to read a extremely biased paper.

Craig Spinks
818
Points
Craig Spinks 01/16/09 - 09:53 am
0
0
I'd bet that Dr. Bedden was

I'd bet that Dr. Bedden was reading a statement Mr. Fletcher, the current RCBOE attorney, wrote for him.

KingJames
11
Points
KingJames 01/16/09 - 10:30 am
0
0
I share everyone's feelings

I share everyone's feelings about how kids are nowadays. However, we have to realize a couple of things resulted in this situation. The first is that the kid didn't get off scott-free. He has to go to alternative school where they are trained to deal with bad kids. The other thing is that if either the driver or the student would have been injured, RCBOE would have been liable. That's why the driver was punished. The driver represents RCBOE to every parent and child on the bus, and to every other driver on the road. Driving a bus is sort of like being the captain of a ship. No matter what happens, the person in charge is held accountable. They may not necessarily be responsible for every act, but they are accountable none the less. To remedy this situation, all parents should explain to their child how privileged they are to ride the bus at all, and that good behavior is expected, if for no other reason than for everyone's safety. I feel the driver was probably suspended for one day because of his past record. If it had been clean, he probably would have only received a letter of reprimand.

edwardc
1
Points
edwardc 01/16/09 - 10:44 am
0
0
I like the tone of these

I like the tone of these posts. No doubt the driver did not want to lose his cool, but dealing with obnoxious behavior day in and day out can cause a build up of stress. The Captain of a ship does not have to deal with rude, undisciplined kids, and if a mutiny occurs, I bet he deals with it forcefully. The school needs to make it very clear that NO unruly behavior will be allowed on the bus or at school. None. A first offense should result in expulsion. It's the practice of trying to please everyone all the time, impossible of course, that is the root of this problem. The kids should behave or get out. The parents should understand that.

KingJames
11
Points
KingJames 01/16/09 - 11:03 am
0
0
Edwardc, my point with the

Edwardc, my point with the analogy is that that captain of a ship is accountable for everything that happens. He may not be responsible for for doing everything, but he is accountable. The driver of this bus wasn't responsible for the fight that started, but he was accountable for ensuring safety on his bus. You are correct when you say that the root of the problem is trying to please everyone. That's what I mean when I say that RCBOE would have been liable if the student had been hurt by the driver, and if the driver had been hurt by the student. Both had to received some form of punishment. I don't think the driver did anything wrong morally. I think he just didn't follow the rules of the RCBOE. He was the responsible adult. He lost his composure, which I think most of us would have in this case.

sismel
0
Points
sismel 01/16/09 - 11:06 am
0
0
All i can say is BRAVO. I

All i can say is BRAVO. I expected to see a bunch of comments defending the "poor innocent brat" So glad to know that there really are people out there that see the truth. Most kids need there butts whipped in a major way.

Drama Mamma
0
Points
Drama Mamma 01/16/09 - 11:36 am
0
0
LOL: I can see it now a kid

LOL: I can see it now a kid as big as you beating you down and all the while your on the floor saying( I'm maintaining my composure)
I just don't think that thought hits your mind at that moment.

drumbeater1
1
Points
drumbeater1 01/16/09 - 11:49 am
0
0
my son is 6'3",weighs

my son is 6'3",weighs 240,plays offensive line.if he assaulted a bus driver i would expect the driver to defend himself to the degree necessary.
as jerry clower used to say,"the world is running backwards".i would never in my wildest dreams dared confront or physically challenge any of my teachers.....they have a god given right to protect themselves.remember the wheelchair bound black kid that stabbed the teacher with the scissors???slap on the wrist,she's maimed for life.
'

HYPOCRITES 08
7
Points
HYPOCRITES 08 01/16/09 - 11:54 am
0
0
Like Chris Rock, I am not

Like Chris Rock, I am not saying that you should have choked him, but I understand. This B.S. about never putting your hands on them, well if you suspend their little behinds from ever again riding a school bus, then you will not have as many problems on them. The first fight or major infraction, you forfeit your seat forever.

Craig Spinks
818
Points
Craig Spinks 01/16/09 - 12:24 pm
0
0
Was the driver choking the

Was the driver choking the student to do him "willful harm" or was the driver attempting to subdue an out-of-control bus rider? Please see GA Code 20-2-18A.

whatisreallygoingon
0
Points
whatisreallygoingon 01/16/09 - 12:39 pm
0
0
drumbeater1, unfortunately

drumbeater1, unfortunately that teacher died a year or two ago due to the complications suffered from that attack. The question is are we going to continue to allow these miscreants to run the roost? I say not. Children need to remember their place and if they can't we need to remind them.

mable8
2
Points
mable8 01/16/09 - 01:10 pm
0
0
The driver had no business

The driver had no business trying to choke the boy; conversely, the boy had no right to threaten the driver--or anyone else for that matter. However, there is something wrong with the incident where this is not the first time the driver has had "problems" in his relationship with the students; is he provoking them to the point the student's anger gets the best of him or is the driver so burned out he needs to change his occupation? As for giving the student "options," the only option that should have been offerred was the alternative school and not suspension. And Dr Beddenfield, please show your drivers and teachers how they can "maintain their composure at all times;" that should be a really good in-service training session that even I would llike to attend! Children can be exasperating, that's for sure, but we cannot allow any form of violence to dictate the method of 'discipline' that is meted out to correct a situation. Parents who cannot properly parent their children do need to attend parenting classes and the local DFACS offices should be having those classes--but they won't because it involves something we call "work."

Nothing else to say
2
Points
Nothing else to say 01/16/09 - 01:11 pm
0
0
Give the bus drivers stun

Give the bus drivers stun guns and see how many act up then.

christian134
1
Points
christian134 01/16/09 - 01:13 pm
0
0
Good idea Nothing else to say

Good idea Nothing else to say except they would most likely take the stun gun and shoot the bus driver...

KingJames
11
Points
KingJames 01/16/09 - 01:19 pm
0
0
LOL @ christian134.

LOL @ christian134.

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 01/16/09 - 01:32 pm
0
0
Give that man a raise! He is
Unpublished

Give that man a raise! He is bus driver of the year!

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