Charlotte student dropped off at stop despite violent school-bus attack

WBTV Investigates: Mom called for help after school’s inaction.
WBTV Investigates: Mom called for help after school’s inaction.
Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 12:35 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2023 at 6:00 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Karen Lemire’s son got off the school bus one day in March bleeding from his nose and mouth.

The eighth-grade student at Turning Point Academy had been attacked on the bus by fellow students.

A police report of the incident shows as many as five people took part in the attack. The report shows the metal leg of a desk was used to beat the boy.

But he was dropped off at his bus stop like usual. The bus driver did not call for help or alert Lemire that her son needed medical attention.

“I feel like my child was dropped off at the bus stop like he was an animal,” Lemire said. “Like, dismissed, like his well-being was not considered at all.”

Lemire’s son was dropped off at the Boys and Girls Club, which alerted her to her son’s injuries. They also took pictures of the boy’s bloody face.

Related: Another Charlotte mom calls WBTV for help after daughter’s reported sex assault

Lemire said she eventually heard from the school’s principal – Dr. Kimarcus Lockhart – who said the incident was reported to her as a one-on-one fight. Lemire requested to see video of the incident, a request that was denied until months later.

Lockhart resigned her job as principal at Turning Point Academy after a WBTV investigation found she failed to take action in response to a reported sexual assault on a school bus.

But Lemire’s call to WBTV – which she made after getting no help from school administrators – prompted questions about what a school bus driver should have done in the situation.

The CMS Transportation Personnel Handbook classifies both student fights and student injuries as an “incident.”

According to the handbook, when an “incident” occurs on a bus, a bus driver should report it to the transportation area manager and complete an incident form.

There is no direction in the handbook to ensure the student’s safety, call 911 or seek medical attention.

A CMS spokesperson acknowledged multiple emails seeking answers about the district’s policies for what a driver should do when a student is injured on a school bus but did not provide any answer.

Related: N.C. Governor calls for accountability after school bus sex assaults

Similarly, multiple messages from WBTV to each school board member seeking answers for this story were acknowledged on Monday by an email response from an unnamed “board services” email account.

“The Board of Education has received your emails. It’s our understanding that you received a response from staff last week,” the email said, despite the fact that CMS staff did not substantively respond to WBTV’s inquires for this story.

“As always, the safety and security of all students and staff is our top priority,” the email continued.

The email did not answer questions about why the handbook for bus drivers does not instruct staff to call 911 or seek medical attention in the event a student is injured.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police confirmed three juveniles were charged with assault in the attack on the school bus. State law prevents information about the students’ names or the status of their cases from being made public.

Lemire said she doesn’t believe her son nor any student is safe at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

“My child was harmed,” she said. “You let him get off the bus. He could have had a concussion. His well-being was not taken into consideration at all.”