*Correction: A previous version of this report used images of Dean Transportation buses. The bus involved in this situation was owned and operated by Northview Public Schools, not Dean Transportation. We regret the error, which has been removed from this report.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an incident on a Northview Public Schools bus after a 5-year-old was allegedly attacked by an older student.
Jermon Burrell, the father of the kindergarten student, said his son was crying with a bruise on his head after he got off the school bus, on March 9
“My son was brutally assaulted, suffocated, all on the school bus by a 6th grader,” Burrell said.
As the incident happened, Burrell claimed some other students stood by and recorded it, and the bus driver didn’t do enough to help his son.
Burrell doesn’t know if the driver noticed what was happening, but he believes the driver should have.
“There was just so much going on that shouldn’t be going on. You shouldn’t be driving a bus like that, there’s kids jumping up over seats and whatnot,” Burrell said.
The Kent County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating, said the bus driver wasn’t involved. It said the 5-year-old sustained “minor injuries which did not require medical treatment.”
Burrell told News 8 he later spoke with the district’s transportation director, requesting to see the video caught by school bus cameras.
“I asked him, ‘It’s the video of my son, can I watch it?’ He’s like, ‘There’s some kind of law to protect the students,'” Burrell said.
According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, schools can decline to release videos that could be used for disciplinary actions but parents can request to review them.
Burrell said he was first allowed to see the video six days after the incident occurred.
“To not have clarification of what’s going on, it drives you crazy,” Burrell said.
Northview Public Schools Superintendent Scott Korpak confirmed in a statement to News 8 that an investigation is underway.
“We are horrified by the bus incident that took place last week and are conducting a thorough investigation in cooperation with the Kent County Sheriff’s Department. The bus driver has been placed on administrative leave, and final disciplinary decisions involving all individuals involved will be made at the conclusion of the investigation. We are working closely with the student’s family to ensure they receive the support services needed. We are also reviewing our transportation safety measures to ensure the safety of all students and will continue to keep parents and our school community informed of important information as it becomes available and appropriate to share,” Korpak wrote.
Burrell now wants the district to have better processes in place so others don’t face a similar ordeal.
“I hope the school gets a protocol for situations like these and other situations that they’re not prepared for,” Burrell said.
The Kent County Sheriff’s Office will continue conducting interviews in connection to the incident on Friday and said its school resource officer is coordinating with the school district. Once the investigation is done, it will be sent to the juvenile prosecutor for a determination on charges.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Northview Public Schools Superintendent Scott Korpak’s incorrectly. We regret this error which has been corrected.