SURRY, Maine — The bus driver who allegedly put “Hello Kitty” duct tape on students’ mouths when they were noisy is no longer transporting students, according to School Union 93 Superintendent Mark Hurvitt.
The bus driver, whose name has not been made public, had been employed by First Student, the bus company contracted by the school district. Students from Surry Elementary School reported to their principal that the driver was using duct tape to silence some of her charges.
“They said it’s a game,” principal Kathy Lewis said at the time of the students who rode the bus.
Though no students were harmed, Lewis immediately called bus company officials and asked them to investigate. The next day, a new bus driver was put on that route.
“It’s really important for kids to be able to trust their bus driver,” Lewis said a few days after she learned about the alleged duct taping. “It’s the first person they see that represents the school.”
Students told Lewis that the duct taping had gone on for several days. Sometimes the driver put the tape on the students’ mouths and other times she gave students the tape to put on their mouths themselves, students said.
The incident got the attention of national news sites and was even mentioned on a “Weekend Update” segment of “Saturday Night Live.”
A representative from First Student contacted Hurvitt last week to tell him the bus driver was no longer working for the company. A representative from First Student confirmed Wednesday that the bus driver no longer works for the company, but would not offer any details about the reason for her departure. The representative also would not say whether the company would be pursuing any legal action as a result of this incident.
Hurvitt indicated in November that he had no intention of pursuing legal action.
“I think it was inappropriate,” Hurvitt said. “I don’t think it rises to the level of a crime.”
Lt. Tim Cote of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office said he was unaware of any complaints filed in relation to the bus incidents.
In November, the spokesperson for First Student said, “The safety of all the students that we transport each day is a responsibility that we take very seriously.”
Lewis said the company acted quickly by replacing the bus driver the next day and opening an investigation.