Deputy’s finger broken during middle school bus melee - FOX 13 News

Deputy’s finger broken during middle school bus melee

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

He's got a splint on his right hand, and for now, Hillsborough County deputy Troy Fallin is not sure when he can go back to work.

On Thursday afternoon, he was driving to a call when he saw a Hillsborough County school bus in a parking lot. He thought it might be broken down, so he went to check it out.

But when he boarded the bus, he saw chaos.

"There was probably 30 or 40 kids on the bus. It was a fully loaded bus. They were all cussing at each other and yelling and going at each other on the bus," he said.

A fight had broken out on the bus. The driver pulled over and called 911.

About the same time, Deputy Fallin got on the bus, two Temple Terrace officers were responding to the 911 call.

But a 15-year-old student, who was not involved in the initial fight, decided he had had enough and wanted off the bus.

He walked down the aisle towards Deputy Fallin.

"I instructed him he was not allowed to get off the bus . He needed to stay on the bus and sit down. That's when he decided he was going to push me in the chest, causing me to fall back," Fallin said.

In the scuffle, Deputy Fallin broke his finger.

The Hillsborough School district has always had a shortage of bus drivers. They need 1,100 at all times. But right now, they are short about 148 drivers.

Fights like the one Thursday don't help them hire drivers.

"Student behavior like what happened yesterday certainly doesn't help us recruit drivers. But I must say, we have 1,100 busses on the road, twice a day, and the number of times this happens is, I can count on one hand," said Linda Cobbe, spokeswoman with Hillsborough Schools.

Drivers are paid between $10.72 and $20.78 an hour.

Cobbe says it is a demanding job..

"They have huge responsibilities, and a lot of times, the students aren't respectful," she said.

The district just implemented a plan to offer financial incentives to keep existing drivers and entice new ones to apply.

Fox13 spoke to one former Hillsborough School bus driver. He says kids are much different these days.

"The kids now have no respect, and if they don't have respect at home or on the street, they're not going to have it at school, Least amount for the bus driver, they look at the bus driver as the lowest on the totem pole," the driver said, who did not want his full name used.

"Ed" used to drive for Greco Middle School and says it's a rough job. He said you have to take charge as a bus driver, because there are so many things you are responsible for.

"You're driving down the road at 55, 60 mph. and you've got 77 kids behind you and they're all being loud. You have to watch the road. You have to see what's going on behind you, and you need to keep these kids under control. It's not an easy task

That's why he left, and why he says he'll never drive a school bus again. He also says the students are the main reason for the shortage of drivers in the district.

"New drivers are coming in, it's a revolving door. They're going out, people are retiring, because they can't take it anymore," Ed says.

The student involved in this case is charged with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest. Both charges are felonies. He was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

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