A Louisiana school district suspended a white bus driver while it investigates complaints that she ordered nine black children to sit at the back of the bus.
No previous complaints have been lodged against the driver, who has worked several years for the Red River Parish school district, school Superintendent Kay Easley said Thursday. She refused to reveal the driver's name.
"I'm trying to get all this straight, and settled, so we can all move on," Easley said.
Two mothers, both black, sparked the investigation with a complaint on Monday that their children and the other black children had been ordered to sit in two rows of seats in the rear of the bus.
"In all these years, I've never had a problem like this," said Janice Williams, whose four children ride public school buses.
One of her children, Jarvonica Williams, 16, said the bus driver allowed many white students to have seats all to themselves while some blacks were forced to stand or sit in others' laps.
Iva Richmond, whose 14- and 15-year-old children were on the bus, said Thursday that they previously had a black bus driver, but their bus assignment changed this year. When school started this month, the white driver told them she had assigned them seats, with the black children at the back of the bus.
Richmond said she complained to a local principal, who told the driver that if any children were assigned to seats, all would have to be.
Early last week, the driver assigned black students to two seats in the back of the bus, Richmond said.
"All nine children were assigned to two seats in the back of the bus and the older ones had to hold the smaller ones in their laps," she said.
The women said their complaints to parish school officials were not immediately addressed.
Easley said she wanted to settle the matter. She said the driver had been suspended without pay, and she would announce the results of the district's investigation at a school board meeting on Sept. 5.
NAACP District Vice President James Panell told The Times of Shreveport that he would give federal attorneys details of the situation this week.
Coushatta is a small farming town in northern Louisiana. The school district has about 1,600 students, Easley said.
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