LUBEC, Maine — Washington County deputies were summoned by a schoolbus driver to Lubec on Wednesday morning in response to an incident with unruly students.
A parent who went to the scene was charged with assault after striking Sheriff Donnie Smith in the head, according to the sheriff.
The bus, which was taking students from Lubec to Washington Academy in East Machias and Machias Memorial High School, did not resume its route, and the students had to be retrieved by parents.
The sheriff’s office was summoned about 7 a.m. to a report of a fight on the bus, said Smith. The driver had turned the bus around to head back toward Lubec and then stopped at the intersection of Routes 191 and 189 to call police.
Smith, who lives only about a half-mile away, answered the call.
“It was quite chaotic when I got there,” and a Maine Marine Patrol officer already was there, said Smith. “Parents and children were everywhere,” he said, and students had left the bus through the emergency door, which a parent had opened. Some students were walking in the road and some had wandered off.
“Our major concern was safety,” said Smith.
Some students were lying on the ground crying, according to Smith, although later he learned they were scared but unhurt. He told them to stay where they were, he said.
There had not been a fight on the bus, said Smith, but a dispute between the bus driver and students who reportedly were playing loud music.
The sheriff and Tina Wormell, principal of Lubec Consolidated School, attempted to calm Deborah Bousquet, one of the parents at the scene, said Smith. He told Bousquet, who had a child on the bus, to “back off” because he was trying to “defuse the situation,” he said, but she refused to leave. She called him several names and hit him in the head, said Smith.
Bousquet, 41, of Trescott was charged with assault and failing to disperse. She was taken to the Washington County Jail and later released on $500 bail.
About seven law enforcement officers went to the scene.
James Underwood, superintendent of Regional School Unit 25, which employs the bus driver, did not return phone calls seeking comment about the incident.
A small group of the students were responsible for the disturbance, according to Smith, who said he had to deal with the same students in another bus incident about two weeks ago.
Brian Leavitt, principal of Machias Memorial High School, referred questions to Scott Porter, superintendent of AOS 96, the Machias Bay area school system.
Porter said that “something happened on the bus. I’m not clear exactly what it was.”
About 20 Lubec students attend Machias Memorial High School, according to Porter. Some Lubec parents brought their children to school that day, he said. Porter was not aware if any of the Lubec students were absent because of the incident.
Porter declined to directly respond to questions about what disciplinary problems the Machias Memorial High School students were causing on the bus and how they were being addressed by the school administration.
About 10 or 12 of the Lubec students attend Washington Academy, said Judson McBrine, head of school at that institution.
“Most of them ended up here later in the day,” McBrine said.
The bus drops off the Washington Academy students first, then travels to Machias to unload the remaining students, according to McBrine.
It “doesn’t appear” that the Washington Academy students were involved in the disturbance, said McBrine.
“I don’t know that for sure,” McBrine added.
“I”ve heard that’s been an ongoing problem,” said McBrine, referring to students misbehaving on the bus.