Dad: School bus driver slapped my 6-year-old son

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- A Valley dad is angry because he said a school bus driver slapped his son in the face.  He also said the school is doing very little about the incident despite admitting wrongdoing.

The Academy of Excellence is a charter school in central Phoenix. Michael Lilly told 3TV he started sending five of his kids to the school after the family moved into the area two weeks ago.

On Friday, Lilly said his son came home crying and the bus driver admitted to Lilly that he had slapped the 6-year-old boy.

“[I said], ‘You slapped my son in the face?’  He said, 'Yeah, I did.'  And I said, 'You can't hit kids in the face.'  And he said, 'Well I did.  If you don't like it you can switch schools,”’ said Lilly, describing the exchange he had with the bus driver.

Lilly’s son, Isaiah, said he and his sister had been roughhousing on the bus and playing tag.  Isaiah had accidentally poked his sister in the eye and that’s when the driver pulled over.

“I accidentally slapped her eyeball… [The bus driver] stopped and then he came back and he slapped me,” Isaiah told 3TV, acting out how the driver hit him across the side of the head.

Lilly took pictures of Isaiah’s red face and ear and then called the school and reported the incident.
“I told her my son don't feel comfortable riding with that bus driver, period,” Lilly said.

But the school told Lilly that the bus driver, whose name has not been released, is sticking around.

Academy of Excellence Director Dr. Eula Dean told 3TV that the driver admitted hitting Isaiah, but claimed it was just on the arm, not the face.  She said the driver has been instructed to seek anger-management counseling and the school is adding a chaperon on the bus. 

The school’s steps are not enough for Lilly.

“He shouldn't be around children,” Lilly said.

The driver won't be around Lilly's kids anymore.  He’s finding a new school for them.

“[Isaiah] is scared.  All my children are scared of the bus driver," he said. "It's not right.  You shouldn't be scared of your bus driver putting his hands on you.  You should feel safe going to school.”

Lilly said he's filed a police report about the incident but mostly just wants the bus driver away from children.

The school said it’s still looking into the incident.