Bus driver in court over fight - FOX 13 News

Bus driver in court over fight

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BARTOW (FOX 13) -

A Polk County judge called the charges against a former school bus driver "egregious" during her first court appearance Saturday.

Patrice Sanders, 29, is accused of driving a busload of students to her home in Lakeland, then arranging and encouraging two female students, 13 and 16, to fight in her front yard. The ordeal was caught on cell phone video and is gaining national attention.

"Frankly, looking at the allegations in the arrest affidavit, it's shocking to me to see what you're charged with," a judge said to Sanders. "The conduct alleged is quite serious and quite egregious."

Sheriff Grady Judd described the conduct during a news conference Friday, saying the teenagers fought until the point of exhaustion.

The girls then got back on the bus, but that's not where the fight ended; Judd said Sanders pulled over a second time to let them go at it again.

"I don't know that, quite frankly, that I've seen conduct like this from a school official ever," Judd said. "This is just unbelievable conduct."

Sanders appeared to roll her eyes and let out a sigh as a judge determined her bond: $5,000 for each of the two counts of child abuse and $15,000 for the false imprisonment charge.

The 34 students on the bus were from Bartow High School and Summerlin and Gause Academies.

Judd said the school district has fired Sanders, who worked there for eight months.

The sheriff called the teenagers both suspects and victims; they're facing charges for the fight but Judd believes they're also victims of an irresponsible bus driver.

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