School bus driver accused of hitting student hired in August

A school bus driver accused of hitting a 15-year-old Iowa student after the boy apparently refused to heed his seat assignment instructions had been working for the school district fewer than three months, a school official said Friday.

Robert Scarbrough, 60, of West Des Moines, was arrested Thursday after some students left the bus and told a nearby sheriff’s deputy about the incident, which was recorded on a cellphone by at least one student.

Scarbrough was hired in early August and underwent a background check and training, Johnston Community School District spokeswoman Laura Sprague said Friday.

"His background check was clear," Sprague said. "He went through the same positive behavioral intervention support training that all drivers do — PBIS for short. It’s a nationwide behavioral methodology that gives constructive ways to deal with inappropriate behavior."

Sprague said no other complaints had been lodged against Scarbrough, who has been placed on administrative leave and is charged with assault causing bodily injury and child endangerment, both aggravated misdemeanors which each carry a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

A judge on Friday ordered an attorney be appointed to represent Scarbrough, but that attorney has not yet been named. The Associated Press was not immediately able to find a telephone number for Scarbrough or a relative who could speak on his behalf and he could not be reached for comment at the Polk County Jail, where he was being held on a $3,000 bond. His arraignment was set for Dec. 2.

The judge also ordered Scarbrough to have no contact with the victim.

Cellphone video shows students yelling at a man who appears to hit a student at the back of the bus. Riders can be heard gasping as the student is struck. At one point, at least one student is visibly upset and yells at the man to stop. The man responds by pointing at the yelling student and telling him to be quiet.

The student who was hit has a mental disability, police have said. A police investigation determined the assault happened after the driver gave the student instructions on a seat assignment and the student responded with an inflammatory comment.

The teen was treated in an ambulance, but not taken to a hospital, according to the Johnston Community School District.

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