Lawsuit Claims School Bus Driver Dragged Biracial Student On Purpose

Illustration for article titled Lawsuit Claims School Bus Driver Dragged Biracial Student On Purpose
Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty Images)

According to a CNN report, Brenda Mayes, a Utah mother, is suing a former driver for dragging her son outside a school bus at least 150 feet. The lawsuit cites the driver’s “racial animus” and intent to harm.


Mayes describes the incident in her civil rights lawsuit. In early February, she says, her son, a 14-year-old referred to as “Child Doe,” was getting off the bus when the driver, 78-year-old John Naisbitt, closed the doors, even though there was clearly still a line of children waiting to step off the bus.

When the door closed, the child’s backpack was caught inside the vehicle as his body was hanging outside. Naisbitt then drove for approximately 17 seconds, with the children still standing in the aisle witnessing the entire terrifying scene. It is unclear if the students said anything to the driver as the camera footage has no sound. Naisbitt continued to drag Child Doe, moving between 7 and 10 miles per hour, 150 to 175 feet before finally stopping the bus and opening the doors.

The disturbing security camera footage can be seen below:

When Naisbitt was contacted by CNN affiliate KSTU-TV at his home in Hooper, Utah, he maintained that the child had somehow staged the entire episode because the driver had disciplined the boy’s brother earlier.

“I didn’t see him in there,” Naisbitt claimed. “If I had, I would have stopped.”

Naisbitt insists he is “not at all” racist. He followed this claim with one of the most thinly veiled, smug forms of racism ever spoken.


“No,” he said. “Look at my dog. He’s as black as could be.” He then laughed.

Naisbitt told the CNN affiliate that he retired a few days after the episode on the bus, and CNN confirmed through a district spokesperson that they no longer employ him.


The lawsuit against Naisbitt also names the Davis School District and Transportation Director Dave Roberts, who was said to have disregarded Mayes when she expressed her alarm. Per CNN’s reporting, she is asking not only that Naisbitt be disciplined but also that criminal charges are filed. Mayes is also seeking unspecified damages from the district and both men.

Apparently this isn’t the first time Naisbitt has acted on his racism in disturbingly harmful ways. He’s said to have shown “racial animus and discriminatory conduct” against other mixed-race children. The lawsuit lists multiple prior incidents involving mixed-race students within the past two years.


From CNN:

In September 2017, the suit says, “Naisbitt took no action when a Caucasian sixth grade boy physically assaulted a third grade biracial girl on the bus.” Mayes’ son had to “stop the assault.”

The incident was reported to the transportation department, the lawsuit says, which was overseen by Dave Roberts.

In October 2018, as two mixed-race boys were getting on the bus after school, “Naisbitt intentionally closed the doors” on one of them. After finally releasing the first student, the lawsuit says, Naisbitt again tried to close the doors on the second.

The first student’s parents reported the incident to Roberts, the lawsuit says. When the student’s father confronted Naisbitt the next morning, the bus driver “denied even knowing” the boy.


In a statement to CNN released Friday, Shauna Lund, a spokeswoman for the school district, said: “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 lawsuit claims that had the Davis School District intervened during earlier incidents that were brought to their attention, Mayes’ son would not have been dragged by Naisbitt’s bus in February. Because the school was complicit and “ignored or deflected many complaints about the racially motivated and abusive conduct,” Naisbitt was allowed to strike again.


Correction: Sept. 17, 2019, 1:50 p.m. ET: This story has been edited to remove unattributed text and to add fuller sourcing.


The other students just stood there and watched? “Hey, bus driver! There’s a kid stuck in the door!” Then they all got off the bus like nothing happened.