Idaho School Bus Driver Pours Water On Teen For Speaking Spanish, Gets Fired

Did an Idaho school bus driver lose her job over racist behavior? That seems to be at least partially the case, according to reports by the Associated Press and KTVB and a rather damning viral video.

Allegedly Mary Black, a Jerome, Idaho, school bus driver, was known for berating students on her bus for questionable reasons. On more than one occasion she’d apparently yelled at any of the children who spoke Spanish while on her bus. Yet no evidence of such acts existed; according to the students, Black would turn off her school bus camera to eliminate the proof.

Unfortunately for Mary, we live in the 21st century. And so she learned the hard way that what school bus cameras don’t capture, your average smartphone will.

In the video, you can see the irate bus driver confronting an eight grader named Miguel Martinez. Mary insisted that Miguel had thrown a water bottle, something he denied. She then accused Bryan Alverez, a friend of Martinez, of influencing him to throw the bottle.

According to Bryan, when Black couldn’t deprive Martinez of his phone, she poured water all over him. But that’s not the worst part: The school bus driver demanded the Latino student speak English when talking to her.

“I don’t understand Spanish. I’m not going to learn it. I live in America and it’s an English-speaking country. So if you want to speak to me, speak to me in English.”

The quote is typical of someone who doesn’t understand that there’s no official language in the United States. Moreover, it’s a rather ironic statement when one considers just how many non-English speaking people have come to America over the past four hundred years.

In Mary Black’s case, she might have thought she’d gotten away with her ugly statement and water pouring antics. However, Juan Espino, a family friend of Alverez, was determined to get to the bottom of the situation.

Upon learning about the disturbing event, he told KTVB that he immediately contacted her employer. Northside Bus Company said that it would review the tape. After doing so, the company stated that there was nothing on the video to support the young teens’ claims. There was a good reason why there was no such evidence on the bus tape.

“When I talked to one of the other kids, he told me that when that took place, the driver would turn; when something like that happened, the driver would turn the cameras off,” Espino said.

Although the bus driver felt safe hiding evidence of her behavior by turning off the school bus cameras (something she’s not supposed to do), there was evidence of her conduct: Bryan Alverez had captured the horrible conflict with his phone.

Armed with evidence, Juan Espino took decisive action.

“It’s not something that we wish for,” he told KTVB, “I would want to, but there will be consequences in everything that you do in life will be consequences.”

Yes, there were consequences for the Idaho school bus driver. When faced with irrefutable proof in the form of a quickly spreading viral video, Mary’s now-former employer was forced to act. Northside Bus Company confirmed to KTVB that Black was fired.

There are so many elements of this story that are deeply disturbing: an adult pouring water on students rather than reporting them; a person who polices what languages others are allowed to speak; someone who abused their authority and power, ultimately acting out in a way that is immoral; and yes, someone probably bigoted.

Despite the video evidence of her water-pouring antics and the troubling “English only” quote, there are some who are arguing that Mary Black should not be fired. What do you think?

[Photo courtesy of Juan Espino & KTVB/YouTube; Alex Starr via Flickr| Cropped and Resized |CC BY-SA 2.0 ]

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