DeHart Bus Driver Allegedly Bullied 7-Year-Old Oakview Student

One of the company's drivers reportedly bullied Adrian Hayden over a three-week period through early April.

A bus driver may have allegedly crossed the line, leading to an investigation under New Jersey’s anti-bullying law, after an incident aboard one of the company’s buses last month.

The driver said, “My bus, my rules,” before getting in an argument with 7-year-old student Adrian Hayden over letting a friend sit with him, which eventually culminated in the driver telling the boy that if the bus got in an accident, it would be his fault, according to Adrian’s father, John Hayden.

“You can’t lay that on a kid,” he said. “This driver’s going completely over the edge.”

What began as just a seemingly gruff bus driver turned ugly in a hurry, Hayden said. It started almost as soon as Adrian began riding a later activity bus after getting involved in a couple of after-school clubs at Oakview in March, and had reached its peak within three weeks, in early April.

The blowup came after the driver allegedly forced Adrian, who has severe food allergies, to sit alone, pressed against the window, and consistently referred to him as “the allergy kid,” which Hayden called bizarre and demeaning.

“He’s a normal kid with food allergies,” Hayden said.

With stories like Aiken Chaifetz’s alleged bullying at the hands of his Cherry Hill teachers and grabbing headlines this year, Hayden said his first move was to take it right to the district and request an investigation, which started almost immediately.

“This is another example of an adult bullying a kid,” he said. “These adults need to be held accountable.”

The process began just before spring break, and by the time school resumed, the driver had already been pulled off Adrian’s activity bus route, Hayden said.

“The school is doing everything right,” he said.

The investigation under the state’s anti-bullying law is complete, Superintendent Kevin Kitchenman confirmed, but the report hadn’t been finished in time for the last school board meeting, meaning it’s still sealed.

“Until it's presented to the board, I can't comment on it,” Kitchenman said.

There may not be much he can say after it’s been presented, either, given the restrictions imposed on how much information can be shared with the various parties involved in the investigation.

Hayden said he’d be surprised if the final report doesn’t confirm the allegations.

“It seems to be a pretty clear case,” he said.

It’s not the first time the Haydens—or other families—have had problems with DeHart this year. Several incidents with substitute drivers and aides, including one who tried to force Adrian from his assigned seat, have cropped up during the year, prompting .

DeHart CEO Dennis Noon, who didn’t return a phone message seeking comment for this story, told the school board at its December meeting that the company was working to resolve those issues, and had gone so far as to suspend a driver from working in West Deptford after at least one of those incidents, where a student was forced off a bus more than a mile from his home.

“This is a pattern with this company,” Hayden said, accusing DeHart of becoming complacent, thanks to its decades-long, .

Hiring someone who would say “despicable” things to young students is a huge red flag, and signals the company just doesn’t care, Hayden said.

“This is a person who shouldn’t be driving, period,” he said.

Hayden said this is far from an individual crusade, and more about ensuring adults are held accountable for their actions.

“I don’t want any other kid to go through this,” he said. “The right thing to do is to get rid of this driver.”

Editor's note: this article has been modified to clarify the time frame in which the incident happened.

Loretta frame May 06, 2012 at 12:39 PM
I have been a bus driver for 15 years with Deharts,we carry a lot of responsibility so many problems occur on the road that we can't control, but we try to control what happens inside the bus the best we can understand we all aren't gruff, mean we do the best we can . I feel every since bullying law people jump too quickly to use it without all the facts let's see what we find out and judge driver's individually instead of grouping us all up because thats just not fair at all
Danna May 06, 2012 at 04:34 PM
For all of you that never drove a School Bus kept quite until you know the facts. Just take one week and get into the driver seat, at the end of the week you would turn to that driver and say I don;t know how you can do this for a living. The things we see as a Bus driver. I drove for 19 years and till this day I love driving. Sometimes the children that have problems sitting, eating, smoking, High School students that try to have sex in the back and think were not able to see talking back to use and saying your not my Mom and you can't tell us what to do, that f---- you comes out of there mouths and we have to keep driving and report them the next day. We have to put those children to the front so we can keep and eye on them. How many times these kids get on the Bus with weapons and don't even know it and were putting our lives on the line because they dont know how to act. Just look at how they drive out of the Schools when school lets out. So all you non-drivers dont put the driver down until you know the hole truth about a Bus Drivers Job. We do the best that we can do and it doesnt help when the schools dont help out.
Kristi Simpkins May 06, 2012 at 06:24 PM
This child did nothing wrong. Plus WHY is an adult arguing w/ a seven yrd old child? Adults shouldn't argue w/ children. Especially a bus driver who's technically a stranger to that child. If he/she is arguing w/ him or another child, then he/she isn't doing their jobs in the manner in which they're supposed to be done. The adult (the driver) is the one who should know better. He/she should also know how to conduct themselves while driving children to & from school. From the problems I have had w/ certain drivers too, I can 99.99% guarantee, that it was this bus driver who's @ fault for all of this. It's also Dehart's problem too. Not this little boy's. That's crazy blaming this child! People need to take ownership & accountability for their wrong doing(s). That includes this bus driver.
Kristi Simpkins May 06, 2012 at 06:32 PM
That's a VERY ignorant comment BTW. This has nothing to w/ this little boy's parents. They did their jobs in protecting their son from a bully. A bully can be anyone. Especially adults. You'll learn once you become a parent yourself.
Kristi Simpkins May 06, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Get your facts straight. It's been this way w/ certain bus drivers, since I rode those very same school buses myself over 30 yrs ago. No one has said especially me, that all bus drivers are a problem. That's isn't the point here. However the ones that are a problem, don't need to be driving my children or any others students to & from school. Those problem drivers need to be held accountable for their actions & shouldn't be driving. The only things that change are the children & the school year. It just seems more & more that certain bus drivers are very disrespectful, rude, & don't care about children & their families. As for me I would believe any child over any driver. It's just sad too. Especially if that driver was wrong & they did something inapprpopriate. Like this bus driver did.
Kristi Simpkins May 06, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Stop being SO ignorant! Seriously? Speaking of school go back there & find some class. This isn't about this little boy or his parents. They all did what they were supposed to do. His parents did their job. By doing that they protected their son. It's just sad that some bus drivers out there, don't know how to do or can't do their jobs properly. This is about another bad bus driver who shouldn't be driving children.
Kristi Simpkins May 06, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Gloria, There were better ways to handle that situation & you know it. That bus driver copted an attitiude w/ a seven yrd old & it was very inappropropiate of him./her to do. Plus every child & their families ARE worth the risk. That's the problem right there. People of this township aren't be treated as they're worth something & we should be. Especially our children who ride those buses daily. If Aiden's situation was handled w/ more descretion & decency, this wouldn't be a story. It would be less stressful on & for families, if ppl just opted to take their children to school. Doing that however just causes yet another hassel that parents don't need. However TBH parents shouldn't have to do that. The bus company just needs to hire competent drivers. More importantly Dehart's, needs to correct the many wrongs that are in place that are NOT being fixed. This is on the bus company. No one else.
Kristi Simpkins May 06, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Gloria, BTW you sound like a really bitter bus driver. Pick up for the good bus drivers & DON'T defend the bad ones. If you defend someone who did wrong doing you're just as bad as that driver. Plus if that bus driver didn't do anything wrong, then why was he/she removed from the little boy's route? If he/she wasn't guilty of anything then he/she, wouldn't have been removed from any route much less that little boy's. Just saying.
Loretta frame May 06, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Thanks danna your 100% correct I love my job too and the kids I drive are why I like my job, whenever anything goes wrong its always our fault....
Kristi Simpkins May 07, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Lorretta, It's only the bus driver's fault WHEN they're @ fault. Not every bus driver is the bad guy. Also not all children are the bad guys either. Especially this seven yrd old. There has been many problems/issues w/ drivers & also with students over the years. However ppl just can't lump every story together & blame all children or all drivers. Just place blame where need be. In this particular story, the bus driver was wrong. End of story. The bus driver was wrong the SECOND he/she began to argue w/ a child & began to bully that little boy. I don't care what that little boy said or did on that bus. That's a different story all together. We're not talking about what the boy, & what he may or may have not done. He's seven yrs old. The bus driver however isn't seven. He/she needs to be the grown-up as well as act like one. Plus every situation is different & every situation must be handled accordingly. All I want is to see, is the correct person or ppl, to be held accountable & responsible. People just need to take ownership for when they do something wrong. In this story this child did nothing wrong. This child was being bullied by not just the kids on that bus. He was also being bullied by that driver.
TimeWaster12 May 07, 2012 at 12:54 PM
This has NOTHING <sarcasm> to do with the father trying to get on the BoE last year and failing. "There are no devil’s advocates serving on the board today, and I would fill that role quite nicely." ~ John Hayden http://westdeptford.patch.com/articles/school-board-profiles-john-hayden I find it curious that the bullying started "after getting involved in a couple of after-school clubs at Oakview in early April" and that the "process began just before spring break, and by the time school resumed" the situation was handled, to the father's liking. Just look at the WD schools schedule. Spring Break was from April 6 - April 13. That means this took place in a span of 3 days (April 5 would have been after school hours and too late to report it). Sounds like the father still wants to be the antagonist for the Board and is using his son to do it. Was The Patch "tipped" just like Fox was a few days before about the EpiPen issue? Kudos goes to the Board for handling the situation quickly and efficiently. And to realdudewd: Bus transportation to and from school/school activities is a SERVICE provided by the district at a cost to the tax payers. It is NOT a right. If a person does not like the service that is being offered, they may chose to not use it.
Kristi Simpkins May 07, 2012 at 05:17 PM
TimeWaster12, This is ALL about what that bus driver did(didn't do) on his/her bus those couple of days. He/she clearly did some wrong doing, b/c he/she was removed from that bus route. Why would anyone especially the bus driver be moved, if he/she didn't do anything wrong or wasn't gulity of the accusations towards them? Also w/ the problems that I have had personally this year, I would rather drive my children to & from school. However I was told by Mr. Kitchenman himself on more than one occasion to NOT do that. "It wouldn't be in the best interest of all the schools & for you & your family, to not do that". That's what he said to me. TBH w/ you, it would in the best interest of myself & other families, if we DID take our children to school. The "service" that's in place has now, is much to be desired & needs a GREAT deal work to fix the many problems/issues they do have. It would take the stress & worry off of parents. Plus our children would get to & from school on time.
Bryan Littel (Editor) May 07, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Awkward wording on my part - the situation came to a head in early April. The clubs started in March. The school board hasn't even gotten involved - as before, these investigations get handled by school administrators, then reported to the board.
TimeWaster12 May 07, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Littel. The time line as first presented had me scratching my head. I would have been amazed if anything dealing with schools moved that quickly and efficiently. I still believe there is more to his agenda, though.
TimeWaster12 May 07, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Kristi, removing a person who is under review for an incident is common practice in all sorts of fields. The article does not say if they were fired, reassigned or suspended. People get up in arms all the time when they hear that a police officer or teacher is suspended with pay until the dust has settled. I'm not saying the driver's actions were right, I just believe that there is more on Mr. Hayden's agenda then these incidents. Either my wife or I take our kids to school and pick them up everyday. To me it's a little special time I get to spend with them that they have no idea means so much. If you can, I'd recommend doing it. You'll enjoy it.
Kristi Simpkins May 08, 2012 at 04:40 AM
TimeWaster12, I just think this bus driver was removed for other reasons. Not just b/c they're investigating this. I could be wrong & I hope I am. Because then this bus driver, didn't do anything wrong. For his/her sake I hope he/she didn't do any wrong doing. I guess will find out soon enough what happened in this case. Also I believe Mr. Hayden's agenda, would be just like any other parent's. That would be to get to the bottom of this incident. People have to take ownership in what took place on that bus. Also the agenda would be to hold the correct person &/or ppl responsible for what happened to his child. I think it's great that you take your kids to school everyday. However parents in the school district, shouldn't have to feel as thought they need to. Parents shouldn't have to take their children to school. Especially when there's a service provided for us. That we pay to have. If you or other ppl choose to do that, then that's your choice. Parents however shouldn't have to feel like that's their only alternative. B/c the service being provided isn't working & it's not worth the children using the buses. All they have to do & fix the problems that are there. Instead year after year, it's just the same old thing. Too many ppl are passing the buck & sweeping the many problems they have under their rugs. It's been this way, even since I was a child growing up here. Things for them just have gotten worse over the years. Not any better.
Carrie May 08, 2012 at 05:49 PM
"Can I change seats?", "No, you have to sit in that seat and you can't have anyone sit with you." "Please?" "We have to stay with the seating chart." I'll work on it" "But Billy Bob is my best friend! Why not?" "My bus, my rules"...Really, no arguement, more of a discussion there, right? Then you have a teacher or multiple teachers or other drivers, "Why can't he sit with his friends?" Response, "He's the kid with the allergies"...This has been splashed all over the news, talked about by parents, discussed with children, for the simple fact that they need to be aware not to expose the child to certain things, and it turns into other kids sayong, "Oh, that's the allergy kid!" So when the driver says, he is the child with the allergies, he has become sensetive to the subject, even if the majority of other kids DON'T say anything, and the boy just hears ANOTHER person referring to him as the "allergy kid". Innocent enough, no actual wrong doing on any part. but, really, before making your child the center of attention like this, STOP and THINK what kind of impact it will have on them with others. I DO drive a bus and have for 12 years. I like to think I do a good job, but I can also tell you that after having kids walking around the bus, arguing with each other, a service radio that I have to keep basted, throwing things out the window, when a kid starts nagging me, I can say, I HAVE said, my bus, my rules. That is saying I'm not arguing with you! not ME ARGUING WITH YOU!
Carrie May 08, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Time Waster is absolutely correct! If there's a serious conflict between a driver & the school, district &/or parents, the driver is often moved to another route or suspended, although, as non union drivers, I have never heard of it being WITH pay. We only get paid when we work. Also, as a parent, I have ALWAYS taken the time to follow my childrens bus & see how they drive, how the kids act, if they are up & around, & know the route they will be taking, & I ONLY put them on the bus after doing that. I shouldn't HAVE to do that, & I DON'T HAVE to do that, but as a parent, it is my responsibility to do whatever I feel is necisary to protect my children. And I WILL say that there have been times over the years where I HAVE felt that it wasn't in my childs best interest to go on the bus & I drove them. After all, if I questioned my childs drivers ability to keep a controlled & safe environment for them, I wouldn't be a very responsible parent to listen to the superintendent & not my own instincts. Transportation is provided by the district, but a driver can only do so much at any given moment without appearing negligent. So, more often than not, it is more about the parenting & behavior of the children on the bus than the actual drivers abilities. Teach the kids how to behave on the bus, correct them when they are wrong & don't cover for them, & have an orderly bus where the driver can drive not referee. But you have to be friends with these people the way you are defending.
Carrie May 08, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Camera's are needed to be mandatory on the buses. I won't give up the thought that CHILDREN care CHILDREN, they will lie to protect themselves, hear things that aren't there, and pick on each other. Parents need to focus on how to teach their children how to behave, let them take their lumps and learn from their mistakes, And fir the sake of all that is holy in this world, realize that we DON'T have machines driving these kids! We get impatient, we have rules to follow and answer for and we DO LOVE "our" children! Parent's need to see what goes on, but at the same time, I have to question will that become us being incompetant in their eyes? One parent wants you to pull over and get comtrol while another is screaming we are late! We can't win. I WILL say, it really feels good to see all of the support on behalf of this driver! We have been taking a beating lately and NO ONE has been speaking up for us! And, Lorretta, you can drive my kids anyday! lol!
Carrie May 08, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I'M not DeHart, I just work there! As an individual!
Carrie May 08, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I have to say, I had this same argument with a friend the other day. If my kid had an allergy on the level of what this by is supposed to have, I would drive him myself for the simple fact that the bus is such a confined space and the kdis DO sneak food on the bus and he could very easily be exposed. If it is that important that he have the pen in his posession, then, maybe he should have private transportation. And WDgrad - I agree 100%...these kids are going to have real issues as adults because they have such a thin skin!
Kristi Simpkins May 09, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Carrie, You may be a good driver. That isn't what this is about. This isn't about you & how do your job. This is about another bus driver who should've done their job better. This child did NOTHING wrong. I can believe ppl are blamimg this 7 yr old. It's ridiculous & crazy! Whatever he did on that bus, his behavior did NOT warrant the reaction he was given by the adult on that bus. Plus his parents did nothing wrong either. They did what any other parent would've done. Including you. They protected their son from bullies. Remember a bully comes in many forms. Including the one who was driving that bus. As already stated pick up & defend the good drivers. They are many good drivers. However don't defend the bad drivers. If he/she was wrong then they were wrong. Like in this story. If he/she handled this little boy's situation w/ more decretion & did do his/her job better, there would no story.
Carrie May 09, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Who raised you to target a child like that?
Carrie May 09, 2012 at 02:42 PM
That, my dear, is where you are wrong. First of all, you are refusing to see my point, that a child often sees/hears/remembers things differently than they are said. The fact is that no one, except the driver in question, knows what was actually said. Knowing many of the DeHart drivers, I have to say that it would with most of them it would be more of a misunderstanding & the child being overly sensetive. That doesn't make anyone wrong! You have NO idea, how I would handle a situation like this. I can tell you, 100%, I may go to the driver, company, driver transportation dept., principal, superintendant and/or school board, but I would NEVER do what these parents have done. This is a private issue that should NEVER be handled publicly. You hear what the child says, & automatically, are screaming for the drivers head! Do you know this driver? Ever had a conversation with him or her? Are you aware that we have rules to follow & if it is in our notes we HAVE to follow the guidelines set forth? A child may be REQUIRED to sit alone & if it is in an IEP or 504 plan, it is actually in effect, a LAW? As a parent, I am raising my kids to be strong & to voice their opinion in conversation with respect, but at the same time, when they are given an answer by an adult, their job ends. That's where I come in. Don't tell me I would EVER put my kid on the 6 o'clock news to "protect" them. There is NO WAY!
annonymous May 09, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Not nearly enough, as we are like a parent, sometimes a nurse, a counselor, and have a lot stress to go along with it trying to insure that your child gets to school and back in a safe manner. We get cursed at by parents, students, and also have to play Taxi when you are not home to get your child. So you see it is not just a matter of getting behind the wheel and driving . Try putting 54 screaming children in your vehicle for a day.We all need to work together and remember we do care about your childs safety>
Bryan Littel (Editor) May 09, 2012 at 05:06 PM
It should be noted there was a DeHart aide on the bus at the time, so there's at least one other adult who was present during this incident.
Kristi Simpkins May 16, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Bryan, That makes it worse knowing that there was another "adult" on that bus. Still this should've never have happened no matter who was on that bus. TBH I don't care how many adults were on that bus. Whomever was on that bus, they didn't handle that little boy's situation or themselves in the correct manner. If they did handle things correctly, this story wouldn't be one. Why would any parent goes to this length? It's too make ppl take ownership for their part of this whole mess. No one is going to tell me that the bus driver & that aide, were totally blameless for what took place on that bus over that period of time. If ppl believe otherwise, then they're fooling no one except for themselves. It's sad too b/c this situation will be treated just like the many others from this school year. This issue will be addressed. However it'll never will be dealt with the way it should be. The wrongs will still be wrong & problems will never be fixed. Another school year gone by with SO many problems being brushed under the rug & many fingers pointed @ each other.
reason January 17, 2013 at 12:17 AM
This statement is true. Parents are making huge mistakes by not supporting the schools. That child will definitely be their problem in the very near future, when he turns on them...
Kristi Simpkins January 17, 2013 at 04:36 PM
WDGrad91, As flat as a pancake is there's ALWAYS two sides. Plus IF that accusation was overturned it was done by his parents. Sometimes the best thing people can do in cases like this is just walk away. Especially when their point was told & made. They accomplished what they wanted to do. Speaking of bullying every victim handles that differently. You were in HS. So you were @ least 14 when that started. That was bad in itself. This child however was 1/2 your age @ the time & was already being bullied & harassed by different people. That too is terrible. Your story was yours. This story however is his. Then again this story is months old & now a new school year is months from being over. Let it go. It's time to move on & move forward. Don't focus on the past. Because then you can't live your present & future lives as you ought to.
James Cheetle March 06, 2013 at 01:24 AM
You are right!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »