A Utah mother says it wasn’t an accident when a bus driver closed a door on her mixed-race teenage son’s backpack and then began driving away, dragging him more than 100 feet.
Brenda Mayes, who appeared on “New Day” on Monday with her attorney Bob Sykes, said racism was involved.
Mayes, who filed civil rights lawsuit over the incident, cited another example in October. The driver shut a neighbor and her younger son in the bus door. Both are biracial.
“My younger son and the neighbor that it had happened to, they were both afraid to ride the bus. They haven’t been riding the bus from October until February because they were afraid of the bus driver,” she said.
Mayes said complaints and a police report were filed. The school district and the transportation director were contacted but she said those entities didn’t do anything.
Asked whether she thinks this is only happening to students of mixed race, she said, “Yes, it is. Biracial students.”
Sykes added that there have been other such incidents, including some that have emerged since the story went public.
Mayes’ civil rights lawsuit alleges her son was getting off the school bus in early February when the driver, John Naisbitt, closed the doors, trapping the boy’s backpack inside as he dangled outside. Naisbitt, 78, then drove approximately 150 to 175 feet before opening the doors and letting the boy go, the lawsuit says.
Speaking to CNN affiliate KSTU, Naisbitt denied that he intentionally closed the doors and claimed the boy staged the incident after Naisbitt disciplined his brother. “I didn’t see him in there,” Naisbitt said. “If I had, I would have stopped.”
The lawsuit also names the Davis School District and its transportation director, Dave Roberts, who Mayes said ignored her concerns. The suit requests that disciplinary action be taken against Naisbitt and that criminal charges be filed. It asks for unspecified damages from the school district, Roberts and Naisbitt.
Naisbitt – who is no longer employed by the district, per a spokeswoman – had previously displayed “racial animus and discriminatory conduct” toward other students of mixed race, according to the lawsuit, which cites at least two prior incidents involving other students dating back to September 2017.
Naisbitt told KSTU he retired several days after the incident. CNN’s calls to Naisbitt were not returned.
“The thing we find so inexcusable is for at least a year and a half prior to this incident of February 4th or 5th 2019, there were other instances. The district did nothing about it,” Sykes said.
Asked by CNN whether any action was taken against Naisbitt in regard to the previous incidents outlined in the lawsuit, the Davis School District declined to comment, citing the pending lawsuit.
Driver’s remark leaves Mom speechless
Reached by CNN affiliate KSTU at his home in Hooper, Utah, Naisbitt said he was “not at all” racist. “No,” he said. “Look at my dog. He’s as black as could be.” Asked for her reaction on Monday, Mayes was at a loss for words.
“I don’t even know what to say to that,” she said. “I think he says everything that can be said about it.”
On Friday, Davis School District spokeswoman Shauna Lund told CNN in a statement that “when issues of discrimination are raised at any time, they are investigated thoroughly. The Davis School District takes any claims of racial discrimination seriously and does not tolerate any form of racial discrimination in our schools.”
Sykes called the statement “baloney.”
CNN’s Keith Allen and Chris Boyette contributed to this report.