James O’Neil—a White school bus driver in Morgan County, Georgia—was fired and arrested after cellphone video taken by a student showed him shoving a pair of young Black siblings who he'd demanded sit at the back of the school bus.
The Morgan County Citizenreported O'Neil's request goes against the regular practice of younger children sitting toward the front of the bus.
After a six-year-old boy objected to O'Neil's request, O'Neil shoved him, which prompted the boy's 10-year-old sister to demand he "stop pushing [her] brother."
O'Neil shoved the young girl too telling her to "shut [her] mouth." He referred to both children as "a pain in the neck."
Footage of the encounter was uploaded to Instagram and you can view it below.
Media coverage of the incident is included below.
Nequania Carter, the mother of the two children, said the incident "terrified" her son, especially because his older sister could not protect him from O'Neil's violent outburst.
Carter said she doesn't know why O'Neil ordered her children to sit at the back of the bus "because the high schoolers sit back there and normally the primaries sit right behind the bus driver." She added the incident caused significant "emotional damage" and neither of her children "want to go back to school."
Carter also pointed out she had complained to the school district about O'Neil before and she believes he targeted her children specifically, adding she has "never put my hands on a child and I used to drive school buses too."
The Morgan County Charter School System issued the following statement following the incident:
"The Morgan County Charter School System was made aware of an incident Friday afternoon involving a bus driver and students."
"We took immediate action, including notifying the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, who we are working with during the investigation."
"We cannot share further details or comment due to this being a personnel issue; however, the driver was terminated."
Many expressed outrage toward O'Neil now that the footage has gone viral.
The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office is currently finishing an investigation into the incident.
Once the investigation is complete, authorities will turn their findings over to the Morgan County Assistant District Attorney who will make the final decision on whether charges will be filed against O'Neil.
Morgan County Chief Deputy Keith Howard said O'Neil was arrested "on two counts of simple battery." He said while the investigation was not a complex one, it was nonetheless "complicated by the allegation that the incident was perceived as being racially motivated.”
Authorities said they could not prove the incident was racially motivated.