Douglas County School Bus Driver Faces 30 Child Abuse Charges for Intentionally Slamming Brakes

Video surveillance shows students being thrown against the seats in front of them after the driver abruptly hit the brakes to “educate” them on bus safety.

Douglas County School Bus Driver Faces 30 Child Abuse Charges for Intentionally Slamming Brakes

Photo: leekris, Adobe Stock

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — A now-former bus driver for the Douglas County School District is facing dozens of misdemeanor child abuse charges for allegedly hitting the brakes to show students the dangers of not sitting in their seats.

On March 1, 61-year-old Brian Fitzgerald was driving home 30 Castle Rock Elementary School students, ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade. Video surveillance shows Fitzgerald telling students they need to sit in their seats. He then asks the children, “Do you want to see how dangerous that is?” before quickly hitting the brakes as he approached a stop sign going nine miles per hour, according to CBS News. Some students yelled as they hit the seats in front of them.

“Do you get that? That’s why you need to be in your seat,” Fitzgerald responded. “Turn around and sit down properly. If you guys can’t do that, you will get written up.”  

One student called her parents to tell them her friend got injured during the incident. “The bus driver hit the brakes, and somebody got hurt so badly and is bleeding on the cheek,” she said. “We [told] the bus driver but he [doesn’t care].”

Another student ran home to tell his mother about the incident. “My son came tearing the through the door that afternoon,” said Lauren Thomason. “He sprinted all the way home. He was out of breath and red-faced and absolutely sobbing and shaking. He was terrified.”

Thomason said she was especially concerned about her son because he was still recovering from a concussion from slipping on ice, reports KRDO. She said her son slammed his head into the back of the seat in front of him while another friend slammed his head into a window.

In an apology letter, Fitzgerald told district officials he was sorry for his actions but that he was trying to “educate” and “control the students” riding the bus. He was later fired.

Fitzgerald was hired by the district in Oct. 2022 and had just finished up a driving class less than a week before and “was only half driving by himself.” Internal school records said he was “not experienced in dealing with difficult students” and in the days leading up to the incident, he had only been driving special education students. This was his first time driving a general education bus as a fill-in.  

Fitzgerald alleged the person who usually drives that bus left it a mess and had a “historical pattern of improper student management.” He said the driver also has a history of “not following district guidelines” which “created a hazardous environment for everyone on the bus, including me.”

Fitzgerald said at the first stop in the morning, students were standing in the middle of the road, blocking traffic, and were “completely unruly and out of control.”

“Being a new driver, I did not make the best decision and if I were able to redo what I did I would rethink my decisions,” the letter concluded. “I am [humbly] apologizing to the leadership team of the Castle Rock Terminal as there are no excuses for what transpired.”

Fitzgerald is due for his first court appearance on May 12. One of the 30 charges is child abuse with bodily injuries which carries a maximum sentence of 364 days in prison.

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About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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3 responses to “Douglas County School Bus Driver Faces 30 Child Abuse Charges for Intentionally Slamming Brakes”

  1. Chriso says:

    Ya that happened to us when we were being loud on our busses back in the 80s. And we had metal seat backings! It was a normal thing to do and we learned. No drivers lost their job, and most of the Parents said we probably deserved it.

  2. Timothy says:

    His methods were better suited to years past and were out of register for today’s child. I detected no malice in his voice, and he seemed genuinely concerned for overall safety of the students. This was an unfortunate situation of poor judgement. Fortunately, children were not more physically injured as a result of this lesson, than they were. I hope that the courts take into account poor judgement versus malice when assigning his possible punishment. I also hope that he learns from this experience and understands why he is facing charges.

    I have also been disciplined on a school bus in exactly the same way when I was a kid back in the 80s; I had to learn a lesson, and I did. Those were different times, and we were accustomed to different rules. What happened then is not wholly comparable to what is acceptable now. I hope the children are ultimately alright and have no lasting side effects.

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