A Michigan school bus driver and bus aide have both been fired after they forced "several" students to exit the bus early, officials say.
The incident, which Muskegon Public Schools Superintendent Matthew Cortez called "deplorable," took place last Wednesday. Both the driver and aide were fired Friday.
"Our parents trust us to keep their children safe at school and on buses and there is no excuse for this kind of behavior,’" Cortez said in a letter to parents on Monday.
Cortez's letter said "several" students were involved in the event, which reportedly stemmed from a group of kids sharing a bag of potato chips during their bus ride home. The driver and bus aide then forced many of those children to exit the bus a number of stops before their own homes.
Neither the driver nor the aide reported the incident themselves, but several parents complained the following morning. Cortez said the school board immediately launched an investigation, which found that those complaints were accurate.
"[Our investigation] confirmed how the actions of the driver and aide put students at risk,’" he wrote in his letter. "Their actions were deplorable and violated district policies, ethics and protocol."
Cortez said he personally apologized to the parents of each student involved in the incident, in addition to offering a more general statement to all parents on Monday.
"While I cannot undo what happened, I am sorry for the offensive actions of these two people, and I will make sure they are never allowed to transport our students again," Cortez’s letter said.
Kellie P. Dean, the president of Dean Transportation, which employed the two fired workers, released its own public statement last week.
"The driver and monitor’s decision was in complete violation of company policy," Dean said. "The safety of our students is our first commitment. Dean has reinforced the training, policies, and protocols to our employees to ensure a similar incident does not happen in the future."
The two employees have not been publicly named, as Dean says company policy forbids revealing personal information. The school also did not share the ages of the children involved.