MOULTRIE -- The Colquitt County School System again faces trouble in connection with the personnel who transport the county's special needs students.
The driver of the special needs bus was allegedly caught on audiotape cursing and threatening a 12-year-old boy on the bus.
This is the same bus on which a wheelchair-bound 7-year-old girl was left for almost an hour earlier this school year. Driver Margaret Dixon and monitor Mary E. Powell resigned following that incident.
Terri Durden, whose son, Joshua Nolin, rides that bus, told WALB Newscenter 10 that she complained several times about the behavior of the new driver, Sandra Farrell, to the principal of Willie J. Williams Middle School. When no action was evident, she concealed a microcassette recorder in her son's coat, the WALB report said.
The Albany television station aired the tapes Friday, and a woman identified as Farrell was heard using profanity and threatening violence in her rants in front of a bus load of disabled children. Durden filed cruelty to children and threat complaints to the Colquitt County Sheriff's Office, the report said.
Another enraged parent, Michael Edwards, told The Observer Saturday his 11-year-old son feared the driver. And, like Durden, he made numerous complaints to the school system without any relief, he said. When he asked for copies of his complaints to the school system to pursue charges against the driver, transportation officials told him they didn't document the complaints, he said.
Edwards said he also requested to see videotapes from bus cameras that are supposed to be activated while on bus routes.
"They (school officials) said the tapes weren't on," he said, adding that his son told him the driver would turn off the camera when she ranted and cursed at the children.
"I feel like it's some sort of cover-up over there. ... I was kind of glad that lady caught them," Edwards said. "It's sad that lady had to do what she had to do, but she did the right thing, though."
Colquitt County Schools Assistant Superintendent Mickey Key said Saturday that he knew of no conduct complaints against Farrell, all the way back to when she became a bus driver in 1998.
"She (Durden) did not come to me, and nobody else has said anything to me. If they had, it would have been investigated and videotapes would have been pulled before now," Key said.
The driver and the bus monitor will not be allowed to work during an investigation that Key will begin Monday, he said.
"It's certainly not something we expect of our drivers, and it's not conduct we normally get from our drivers. I'm hoping this is an isolated incident. We'll deal with it, but I hope this is something that won't reflect badly on our other drivers," he said.