No charges after bus driver accused of assaulting 3rd-grader in Catawba County

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — No charges will be filed against a bus driver accused of assaulting an 8-year-old student in Catawba County, investigators said.

It happened Wednesday evening, according to Catawba County Schools. Sheriff’s deputies were called to a bus route for Claremont Elementary School for an assault by a bus driver.

Channel 9′s Dave Faherty learned the victim was an 8-year-old Claremont Elementary third-grader.

The district said the driver has been suspended with pay as the investigation unfolds.

“We are taking this matter very seriously and are fully cooperating with the law enforcement authorities as they conduct their investigation,” their statement reads.

The boy’s father, Henry Barker, spoke to Faherty about the incident, saying he wants more action against the driver than just a paid suspension. He said he’ll never forget what his son told him after getting off the school bus at his home.

“He was frantic and he said, ‘daddy call the law right now. The bus driver just choked me,’” Barker said.

Barker says his son told him the driver had grabbed his hoodie and jerked it back. He thinks the driver was upset about the hoodie, which his son had worn for hat day at school.

Barker said his son isn’t even on the bus for very long.

“The school is just a mile and a half from my home, so him wearing a hoodie on the bus should not be that big of a deal,” he said.

Barker is a single father with disabilities and said his family relies on the school bus. He doesn’t believe the driver should be allowed back behind the wheel and should face charges.

“My son has been assaulted for just wearing his hoodie,” he said. “I think that is absurd and I think I should be compensated for that instead of him sitting at home.”

Investigators reviewed video from bus cameras and consulted the district attorney as they looked into the case. Deputies confirmed Friday that no charges would be filed against the driver.

A spokesperson for the school district said they have not made a decision on whether the man will be allowed to drive again.

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