JCPS worker charged after bus injury costs student her teeth - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

JCPS worker charged after bus injury costs student her teeth

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Andrew Broughton Andrew Broughton
Anna Spears Anna Spears
JCPS spokesman Ben Jackey JCPS spokesman Ben Jackey

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Frost Middle School staff member has already served an unpaid suspension after a student was injured aboard a bus he drove. Now, he is facing a criminal charge for it.

Frost Middle School seventh grader Andrew Broughton said he considers Student Response Team specialist Donald Babbage a good guy.

"Nice, easy to talk to," Broughton said on Friday.

Babbage's job includes a number of responsibilities, including bus driver for Frost's field trips or projects.

"He hits the brakes a lot," Broughton said. "Because traffic stops and he gets grumpy about that."

Babbage's arrest warrant, charging him with fourth degree assault, alleges he "deliberately braked the bus sharply" on a trip October 21, 2013 causing most of the students onboard to fall forward in their seats and one girl to strike the elbow of the student in front of her.

"Her mouth began to bleed and swell," the report states. Two days later, a dentist discovered the girl's two front teeth had been fractured, so badly, the warrant alleges, that both teeth had to be pulled and the girl will have to wear temporary bridgework until she reaches maturity.

"I think he needs to be punished," said Anna Spears, mother of another seventh grader at Frost. "I really think he needs to be punished, if it was intentional."

"They substantiated that Mr. Babbage intentionally slammed the brake," said Ben Jackey, a spokesperson for Jefferson County Public Schools.

Frost's acting principal and other investigators reached that conclusion after interviewing Babbage, the girl and other students aboard the bus, Jackey continued.

The girl told investigators she was so frustrated that Babbage was applying the brakes, "multiple times" that she rose from her seat and walked to the front of the bus to beg him to stop, but Babbage told her every student ought to be sitting down and slammed on the brakes as she returned to her seat.

Her injury occurred, the girl claimed, when Babbage pumped the brakes again as it was nearing her stop.

Babbage admitted tapping the brakes once, investigators found. But he claims he did so only to warn students that he might have to stop frequently and suddenly. He denied tapping the brakes repeatedly and maintained that six students who had claimed otherwise, weren't there to see it.

"He has been disciplined and the investigation is complete as far as JCPS is concerned," Jackey said.

Babbage stayed home the first 10 school days of 2014, suspended without pay.

He remains on a 90 day probation and is no longer permitted to drive buses.

"The question you're asking is, should he have been fired and the answer is that's not the role that the principal took," Jackey said. " The girl's family has presented JCPS's insurance company with her dental bills," he added.

But Spears believes Babbage's penalty sends the wrong message.

"License needs to be suspended," Spears said. "Because those are children on that bus, and to be hurt on the bus, it really needs to be taken care of."

WAVE 3 News has been unable to reach Babbage, the student or her mother for comment.

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