Utah school district settles with family of biracial boy who was dragged by a school bus
Pierre Meilhan, CNN
(CNN) — A Utah school district has settled a civil rights lawsuit by the family of a biracial student who was dragged by a school bus, the family’s attorney told CNN Thursday.
The boy’s mother, Brenda Mayes, filed the lawsuit in May against a former bus driver who she alleges closed the bus door on her 14-year-old son’s backpack and dragged him approximately 150 feet in February because of his “racial animus” toward students of mixed race.
The lawsuit also alleged that the driver, John Naisbitt, previously displayed “racial animus and discriminatory conduct” toward other students of mixed race. The complaint cited at least two prior incidents involving other students dating back to September 2017.
The bus driver told CNN affiliate KSTU in May that he retired several days after the incident.
Naisbitt had denied that he intentionally closed the doors, the station reported. He claimed the boy staged the incident after Naisbitt disciplined his brother.
“I didn’t see him in there,” Naisbitt told the station. “If I had, I would have stopped,” he said.
The district and Mayes’ family reached the settlement of $62,500 less than a week ago, according to Mayes’ attorney Robert Sykes.
“This is a fair settlement and the family is happy about it. There was clearly a racist act, and this is a horrible thing that the bus driver did,” Sykes said.
The suit had requested that disciplinary action be taken against Naisbitt and that criminal charges be filed.
“This school district needs to take some action to reign in this bad conduct, hopefully they will take take some action,” Sykes said.
The Davis School District declined to comment on the settlement.
“We take these matters very seriously and do everything we can to protect students, district spokeswoman, Shauna Lund said in a statement.
Reached at his home in Hooper, Naisbitt told KSTU in May he was “not at all” racist.
“No,” he said. “Look at my dog. He’s as black as could be.”
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