CMS widens investigation after families claim bus driver swabbed kids’ cheeks for money

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Channel 9 was the first to report Monday that a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools bus driver was suspended after three families said the driver swabbed their children’s mouths and paid them money.

Since that report, we have gotten several calls from viewers, saying they have heard similar stories.

Anchor John Paul has been investigating this and said school board members revealed the district is widening their scope.

“I know they are going to try to interview everybody on that bus route,” school board member Rhonda Cheek said.

Cheek represents District 1, which includes Ridge Road Elementary. She learned about the incident of Monday.

“The principal actually called me and said, ‘before you see a news story, I need to tell you something,’” Cheek said.

That something was families claiming nearly a dozen children were paid $5 by their bus driver to take a mouth swab and give personal information, calling it a COVID-19 test.

None of it was approved by CMS.

(Timeline: Here’s what Channel 9 knows so far)

“Nothing about this makes sense to me as a normal protocol. To me, it doesn’t sound like COVID-19 tests. I’ve had enough over the last year. It doesn’t even sound like COVID tests,” Cheek said.

Paul has been working to figure out what that test was, but has been getting conflicting answers.

StarMed’s CEO said that’s not an approved way to test for COVID-19.

Until we know what the test was, Cheek wants the investigating to expand.

“Bus drivers drive to more than one school, so we probably need to double-check any other routes she’s driven,” she said.

Cheek also said anyone involved needs to call the principal so they can follow up.

(WATCH BELOW: CMS school bus driver offered children money to swab their cheeks, families say)