“It’s completely unacceptable,” the mother said. “We do believe this was racially-motivated. This is not the first time we have complained about this bus driver harassing our children.”
Carter shared concerns with the Citizen that the school system only fired O’Neil because the story went viral. “We feel like he was terminated because the story got more coverage than the Morgan County Charter School System would have liked,” she said. “It was rumored that they were just going to send him to be retrained.”
The recent encounter began on Sept. 9 when the bus driver, a white man, told Carter’s 6-year-old son to sit in the back of the bus while normally children his age sit in the front, the mother said. High school students sit in the back, Carter said. It’s unclear what lead O’Neil to push the student. But when he did, the child cried and called for his older sister, Carter said. She also accused Alicia Lord, the school district's transportation manager, of failing to take the attack seriously.
“She said it was my son’s fault for calling out for his sister,” the mother said. “Of course he called out for his sister. This man was pushing him and he was scared. He’s only 6 years old!”
Morgan County is located about 60 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta. It has a population of more than 20,000 residents, more than 75% of whom are white, and about 20% are Black, according to the latest U.S. Census figures.
The Morgan County School District has not responded to Daily Kos’ request for comment.
Pastor Lonnie Brown, president of the Morgan County NAACP, said in a statement the Citizen obtained that the organization continues ”to fight for equality and to eliminate race base discrimination on all levels for our youngest to the oldest citizens.”
Brown called the recent incident an “injustice” that is “beyond words.”
“The NAACP cannot sit back and not speak out on this matter,” Brown said. “We cannot continue to let children especially our black and brown children be mistreated. If we do not stand up for our children, who will?”
Carter told Fox 5 Atlanta she has removed her children from the school system. "I was stunned … the emotional damage that it did … my kids don’t want to go back to school … they don’t want to get back on the school bus," Carter told the news station.
She said she used to drive school buses too and never put her hands on a child.
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