Jefferson County school bus driver says she was punished for speaking out following crash

FOX Files

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. – It was a horrifying scene for parents when Bommarito Automotive SkyFOX captured a crash between two school buses in High Ridge in January 2021. FOX 2 has remained on the case since that time and learned a surprising development about the bus driver who says she warned it could happen.

Michelle Kelly said she’d complained for weeks about the driver, who investigators say rear-ended her bus on January 22.

“I tried to prevent this accident and they didn’t listen,” Kelly said.

Kelly says she’d warned supervisors about the other driver, “…speeding and running the red light right there at PP and Hwy 30 every single day, crossing two to four lanes of traffic, fully-loaded with children, he’s going to cause an accident.”

The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s crash report says Kelly and a 9-year-old girl were taken to hospitals and wrote this about the bus behind her: “Vehicle 2 was following too close and could not stop in time.”

Kelly says Durham Bus Services gave her disciplinary papers on March 12, saying she violated policy by contacting the school district. She showed us the email where she wrote Northwest School District, “…I really need to have a conversation with you because this was totally preventable.”

Kelly continued reading us her email: “’If you would like to talk to me, please call me.’ And I gave my phone number. I said, ‘Thank you, have a great day.’”

Kelly is unapologetic about writing the email.

“I am absolutely not sorry. You want to know why? Because I had 20 students and myself on board and they were all injured,” she said.

One of the students was her daughter, who she says was the child mentioned in the highway patrol’s report as going to the hospital.

The school district told FOX 2, “The safety and security of Northwest students is our top priority. We are not aware of reprimands to any Durham School Services employee related to communications with (us). Personnel issues with bus drivers are handled by Durham, according to their policies.”

Kelly said Durham also disciplined her for posting concerns to Facebook. Kelly showed us the post and said, “Nothing on here that I said was not true. I stand by that 100%. I would (do it again), absolutely, and I think the public has a right to know.”

“They even had the nerve to tell me that I am an employee of Durham before I’m a parent. No, you have that twisted,” she said. “I’m a parent before I’m an employee of Durham and I no longer work for Durham. I told him to take the job and shove it.”

Durham responded with the following statement: “We can confirm that one of our drivers who was involved in an accident on 1/22 was disciplined for posting sensitive information while an investigation was underway. We can also confirm that the driver who was determined to be at fault in this accident was disciplined and terminated.”

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