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Granite District reassigns school bus driver to warehouse job

A bus driver who allegedly used racially charged language when removing Bonneville Junior High students from his bus last month has been taken from the wheel and put to work in a Granite School District warehouse, the district reported Friday.

The driver's new job includes tasks like stocking shelves, preparing orders and operating a forklift, spokesman Randy Ripplinger said. The man's pay is the same.

The move comes after the district investigated the driver's conduct with students after initially reassigning him to another route and putting a disciplinary letter in his file.

"The district has now removed the driver from his position and assigned him to a position where he has no direct involvement with children," Ripplinger said.

However, at least one parent was disappointed that the driver was still on the district's payroll.

"I would hate to see anybody lose their job, that's so harsh," said Racquel Rico, whose 12-year-old son was on the bus. "I don't think the way he treated my son was fair, either. ... He's old enough to know he can't treat people like that."

Community activist Tony Yapias said the decision not to fire the driver seemed like a subtle condoning of discrimination, and he questioned why this driver wasn't fired when a bus driver in Minnesota lost his job recently under similar circumstances.

"I'm disappointed you can say demeaning and racial slurs, and all you're going to get is a lateral move," Yapias said. "I know the parents will probably say it's unacceptable."

The incident happened on the way home from school. The driver returned to Bonneville because of a mechanical problem, the district has reported. Students got rowdy, and students said the driver used comments such as "brown garbage" and "brown trash" in ordering them off the bus.

The district reprimanded the driver but reopened the investigation after KSL Radio broadcast what was identified as a cell phone recording of the incident, in which a man's voice could be heard shouting at children.

District officials also subsequently met with concerned parents, and Superintendent Steve Ronnenkamp apologized.

The district is providing additional training for bus drivers based on the incident, Ripplinger said.