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Utah mom alleges racism when son trapped in school bus door

(Photo Credit: Paul Nelson. Pictured, Robert Sykes, right, Brenda Mayes, center)

By MORGAN SMITH Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A mother sued Utah school administrators Tuesday, alleging that a school bus driver trapped her son’s backpack in the door and drove away in a racially motivated event.

Brenda Mayes said in the lawsuit that bus driver John Naisbitt intentionally closed the door on her son’s backpack in February as he was getting off the bus. He was pinned to the outside of the door as the bus drove down the street for about 175 feet (53 meters), but the boy wasn’t physically injured.

Mayes’ son, who is half white and half black, is a seventh-grader at West Point Junior High School in an overwhelmingly white state, her attorney Bob Sykes said.

Other parents of children in West Point, a small city about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Salt Lake City, have told administrators about harassment and discrimination by Naisbitt, with little action taken, the lawsuit says.

Mayes accused the bus driver of not doing anything to stop a white student from physically assaulting a biracial girl on the bus. Her son had to intervene, Mayes said.

Davis County School District spokeswoman Shauna Lund didn’t immediately return a phone message and email seeking comment about the lawsuit.

Naisbitt couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. It’s not clear if he was punished after the reports. The lawsuit asserts the school allowed him to retire and did not fire him.

Mayes also said Naisbitt intentionally closed the bus doors on her younger son, a fifth-grade student at West Point Elementary School, in October, along with another student.

Parents of the other student sent administrators photos of the injuries their child had suffered, but school officials “failed to show up or take significant action,” the lawsuit said.

Mayes’ son has been traumatized and the bus driver has created “a hostile educational climate based upon races,” the lawsuit says.

Davis County school district also came under fire in March after a teacher made a 9-year-old student wipe an ash cross off his forehead on Ash Wednesday.