Note: This story was last updated at 9:30 p.m.
Oak Ridge police arrested a 73-year-old school bus driver Friday evening on an aggravated assault charge after he allegedly acted aggressively toward an elementary-aged student, the city said in a press release. Additional charges are pending, the press release said.
Matthew T. Bak of Oliver Springs was taken into custody Friday following an investigation into reports that he acted aggressively toward an elementary-aged student on the bus he was driving on Thursday evening, the City of Oak Ridge said in the press release. Bak’s actions caused all students on the bus to fear for their safety, the press release said.
“Calls from drivers prompted police to locate the bus Bak was driving and initiate a traffic stop on Thursday evening,” the press release said. “All students on board the bus were safely reunited with their families.”
Bak is an employee of First Student Incorporated, which is the bus company that is contracted by Oak Ridge Schools. He will no longer be allowed to drive for any Oak Ridge Schools bus routes, the press release said.
Bak faces one count of aggravated assault and has been booked into the Anderson County Detention Facility.
“The investigation is ongoing,” the press release said. “No further information will be released at this time.”
Here is the information sent about the incident by Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers earlier Friday:
Oak Ridge Schools Families,
Yesterday evening, a regrettable event occurred on one of our elementary school buses during which an adult bus driver acted aggressively towards students on the bus and caused them to have concerns for their safety. Police officers were called, the bus was pulled over, and parents were contacted to pick up their children. All children were safely reunited with their families.
Immediately following the incident, Oak Ridge Schools administration worked with our transportation company, First Student, to obtain video footage from the event, reviewed the footage and acted swiftly and decisively to remove the bus driver involved from all Oak Ridge bus assignments. As an employee of First Student, the employment status of the driver will ultimately be decided by that company, however the driver will no longer be associated with Oak Ridge Schools. We have turned over all footage to the Oak Ridge Police Department and are assisting with their ongoing investigation of the incident in any way that we can. Additionally, as with any incident involving the safety of minors, the Department of Child Services has been contacted and made aware of the incident and ongoing investigation.
School administration have been working directly with the families of the students that were on the bus to provide additional counseling and support. The safety and well being of our students is our top priority, and the actions of the bus driver was an egregious violation of the values and standards of Oak Ridge Schools.
Because there is an active police investigation we are limited in the details that we can provide, but we will continue to support the ORPD and appreciate their immediate and professional response to this incident and for supporting our efforts to provide a safe environment for students and staff.
Dr. Bruce T. Borchers, Ph.D.
Oak Ridge Schools
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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