A Utah mother has filed a discrimination lawsuit against her biracial son’s school district and two transportation employees.
Brenda Mayes filed a lawsuit on May 7 in US District Court against the Davis School District, the local transportation director, and a bus driver for racial discrimination after a video showed Mayes’ son getting trapped in the doors of a school bus, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The incident reportedly took place in February. In the video obtained by the publication, Mayes’ seventh grade son can be seen walking off of the bus with a few other white students in front of him. As the 14-year-old, who attends West Point Junior High School, tries to get off the bus, the bus driver closes the doors on his backpack and traps him.
The driver then proceeds to drive approximately 150 feet while the teen can be seen swinging from his backpack, the video obtained by the outlet shows.
“I was blown away. I was angry,” Mayes told The Salt Lake Tribune. “The driver knew what he was doing.”
The bus driver, who has been identified as John Naisbitt, has a history of allegations that he has targeted other multiracial students. Naisbitt reportedly closed the bus doors on two other biracial boys and called them “stupid” and “idiots,” and did not stop a white girl from assaulting an Asian girl, FOX 13 reported. Naisbitt retired three days after the incident to prevent getting fired, according to the news station.
Mayes told FOX 13 that the school district did not take any action against the bus driver. “Something failed,” Mayes said. “They have a responsibility when I send [my kids] off to school, they have a responsibility to make sure they are safe.”
The mother told The North Star that she has had conversations with her children about the incident since it happened, but has never talked to her children about how differently people may treat them because of their race.
“I’ve never taught my children that people are judging you because of your race,” Mayes said.
Mayes blames the school district’s transportation director, David Roberts, for allowing Naisbitt to continue driving school buses despite the previous allegations against him.
“The transportation director has had the final say and he’s not competent of making a decision to make the children feel safe. Somebody needs to be monitoring what he’s doing and how he’s handling these kinds of cases,” Mayes said.
In a statement to The North Star, Davis County School District spokesperson Shauna Lund confirmed the bus driver no longer works for the district.
“When issues of discrimination are raised at any time, they are investigated thoroughly. The Davis School District takes any claims of racial discrimination seriously and does not tolerate any form of racial discrimination in our schools,” the statement read.
In an interview with FOX 13, Naisbitt said he did not intentionally close the bus doors on the teen. When asked if he was racist, he replied, “Not at all. No. Look at my dog. He’s as black as could be.”
Mayes’s lawyer, Robert Sykes, told The North Star that there is a lot of evidence of racial discrimination against Naisbitt. “It was racial discrimination and the district did nothing,” Sykes said. “The child could have been killed.”
Mayes told The North Star that she wants the lawsuit to change some of the policies in the district and to make district officials less dismissive over serious allegations against their employees.
“This wouldn’t have been okay even if [the students] were all white. They knew this was a problem that kids were being assaulted,” said Mayes. These kids weren’t acting out and they were just getting off the bus. It just so happened they were all these mix-raced kids. It’s not okay and it should have been stopped.”
About the Author
Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.