CHATTANOOGA (WATE) – Students and administrators raised concerns about a Chattanooga school bus driver’s behavior behind the wheel in the weeks before a crash killed six children.
Police have charged the driver Johnthony Walker with vehicular homicide after the Chattanooga crash on November 21. Federal authorities said Walker was driving off the designated bus route when he wrecked on a curvy road while carrying 37 children on their way home from Woodmore Elementary School.
Records released by the school district on Friday include two statements written by students on November 16 complaining about Walker’s driving. One said the driver would stop the bus to make students moving from their seats hit their heads. Another wrote: “We need seat belts.”
On November 11, the school’s principal, Brenda Cothran, asked for video of the bus leaving campus, saying that in her opinion he was “driving way too fast.”
Incidents on the bus date back to September, when a concerned parent wrote their child’s teacher saying they were concerned about Walker. “If another one of yall bus drivers curse my kids and slam on breaks making them hit they heads and fall out they’re seats I am going to beat his ass my damn self,” writes the parent.
On November 2, Carlis Shackelford, the Behavior Specialist at Woodmore Elementary sent an email to school administrators to help address some behavior problems with students. She said Walker was upset because the students were disrespectful to him.
“The driver was now visibly upset and continued on by saying the he has another job and driving this bus was just a part-time job for him. Driver stated that he could just put the student on the bus and I will get off the bus and leave the school. Driver stated that he did not care about the students and proceeded to tell the students he did not care about them. I then used my radio and cell phone to call for administration. Administration arrived at the bus and talked to the bus driver”
Later that day Hamilton County Transportation Supervisor Ben Coulter said he was addressing issues with the driver.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.