Investigators Shifting Focus in School Bus Fight?

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - Some Gibbs high school students might be suspended or even face criminal charges. However, sheriff's investigators no longer believe yesterday's fight, aboard a school bus was racially motivated.

They took one student into custody Thursday, but Friday morning, a juvenile court judge let him go home with his grandparents because he hadn't been charged yet. He's confined to his grandparents home except for school. That is, if he's allowed back in school.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd's here with new information that could explain why investigators may be shifting their focus.

They're not saying why, but the bus driver is telling the judge, and us that two Gibbs students originally accused of assault and vandalism are getting a bum rap.

In fact, that was what the argument was about. You do not hit a girl on our bus. Driver Lila Doig says a white Gibbs High School student wound up off her bus and in handcuffs, not over a racial remark, but for what a white girl had said to a school security officer, checking on the students welfare.

"One of the girls just said tell him to go get a donut," Doig said. "I laughed because she was being silly. That's when the young man involved got upset."

"I don't know what the comment was," bus passenger Angel Strong said.

"And he told her not to use the M'Fin D-word," Doig said. "She said are you talking about donut and he repeated the statement again!"

Before today, neither the girl, nor the bus driver, say they knew the word donuts could be street gang slang, a Crips insult to members of the rival Black Gangster Disciples.

"Everything was calm, when he rared back to hit her, and when he did, my boys all jumped to her defense," Doig said.

"She pushed him twice and he pushed her back, and that's when the boys rushed to the front and started fighting him, ganging him," Strong said.

While the law sorts out who hit whom first.

"There are anti-bullying, anti-harassment policies, so that's not something that would be tolerated," Knox County School spokesman Russ Oaks said.

Black on white, vice versa, or otherwise school policy says any type of harassment or discrimination demands punishment ranging from verbal warnings, to suspensions or expulsion. That race could be a factor in considering whether one student has bullied another because reasonable people should know such acts could harm the person target.

"We need to let the administrators go through the investigative process," Oaks said.

Nobody faces automatic expulsion: the target wasn't a school employee or law officer. Administrators must consider the offense, and how suspension could affect the offenders education. If it were up to the bus driver:

"The two boys who were fighting need to half the costs of the windshields they were throwing each other up against," Doig said.

She means one white student, one black. The black student was treated for head cuts at Children's Hospital. He's been unreachable.

The school district says it can't tell us what action it has taken, may take, or will take against any of the students because of privacy concerns involving juveniles. Will any of them face criminal charges?Sheriff's investigators say we may not know until next week.


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