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FL School Bus Attack Prompts Questions About Driver's Response


Unlike fights in school, the driver is typically the only adult in charge when bullying occurs on a school bus, so what should they do when violence breaks out? That's the question being asked after a disturbing cell phone video showed three teens brutally beating a 13 year-old boy in Pinellas, Florida.

The Florida case is just the latest example of bullying on board school buses.

The driver behind the wheel in Pinellas was 64-year-old John Moody.
Instead of jumping in to break up the fight, he looked on in horror, and called for help.

Pinellas County school policy gives drivers the choice of whether they should physically intervene.

In fact, there is no nationwide policy on how to deal with school bus violence, every school district has their own.

The U.S. Department of Education says nearly 10% of bullying incidents involving middle and high school students happen on the bus.
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Pinellas prosecutors say they have no basis for charging school bus driver John Moody with child neglect for failing to intervene in the beating of a student on his bus on July 9th by three other boys.

"It wasn't like he was looking out the window cleaning his fingernails or something like that," said Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett.

Moody spoke for the first time since the attack. "The 3 boys just jumped on him and start pounding on him. And I did all can. It was like I was in shock. I was petrified" said Moody.

He said the incident still haunts him more than 2 weeks later. "It's been some trying time for me. Sleepless nights. It's been tough" he said.

The incident, captured on cell phone video and the bus surveillance camera, shows three boys punching and stomping another boy who was sitting behind the driver during the ride home from Lealman Intermediate School, a dropout prevention school for at-risk students.

Moody repeatedly told the three juvenile attackers to stop but did not physically intervene. He called the school district's bus dispatch center on his radio with urgent pleas for help while the attack was ongoing.

Gulfport police investigators said given the ferocity of the attack they understood why the driver did not try to physically intervene and put himself in harm's way, but asked prosecutors to charge Moody with neglect for failing to render aid to the victim after the attackers jumped out of the rear of the bus.

Bartlett said the victim, who suffered a broken hand in the attack according to the police report, was not as badly hurt as the video made it seem he would be and didn't stick around for first aid from the driver or anyone else.

"The kid gets up and skedaddles out the door," said Bartlett.

Frank McDermott, the attorney for Moody says he's angry at Gulfport police for slandering his client with allegations of neglect but is pleased to hear prosecutors have decided against charging Moody with neglect.

"If he had touched these children, he would have put more people in danger. He would have had to rip them off of this young man throwing these violent children into other children" said McDermott.

Moody retired from his job shortly after the incident. He says he had submitted his retirement papers several days prior to the incident.

The three attackers all face charges of aggravated battery in juvenile court. One of them has an additional charge of robbery for taking $5 from the beating victim.


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