UPDATE: School correspondence reveals complaints against Woodmore bus driver
The information contains letters from parents, students, and school officials which document various incidents and complaints against the driver and the students' safety on the bus.
The Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE) Friday released school correspondence concerning Johnthony Walker, the bus driver facing vehicular homicide charges following the Woodmore crash.
Channel 3 obtained the information from HCDE through an open records request.
The information contains letters from parents, students, and school officials which document various incidents and complaints against the driver and the students' safety on the bus. Most of the complaints expressed concerns about Walker's driving and language toward children.
"It hurts. It hurts to know that these parents will never see their babies again. It hurts to know I'll never see my granddaughter again," Jeanette Blocker, Zyaira Mateen's grandmother said.
Zyaira Mateen was one of the children killed in last week's bus crash. Jeanette Blocker will always remember her granddaughter's smile.
She believes the tragedy could have been avoided if officials had taken action on complaints against the bus driver.
"I feel like he should have been gone from the first complaint because if that many people complained, then evidently it's a problem," Blocker said.
Blocker's daughter filed a complaint against 24-year-old Johnthony Walker in September.
"You don't have children coming home telling their mama 'well, mama he made us hit our heads and he's telling us to shut the eff up. He's disrespectful.' If he didn't like his job, he should have never took that job," Blocker said.
Others filed complaints too.
The principal and two students reported that Walker was driving too fast, on more than one occasion. One child had spoken out on the need for seatbelts.
A behavior specialist noted walker said he did not care about the students.
As for Walker, the records show he had complained too, about students not following his directions to stay seated.
Durham's contract with Hamilton County Schools ends in June of next year.
School board member, Rhonda Thurman said she wants to review it before there are any talks of renewing the agreement.
"Sometimes you don't know you have a problem until there's a problem. We've had a problem. We know things to look at now that might need to be redone, renegotiated, so those are things we have to look at," Thurman said.
For now, family members are dealing with loss, sorrow, and questions about forgiveness.
"You can't forgive such a horrific thing. You can't do that. It may get easier down the road, but right now, I don't see it," Blocker said.
School officials said they had forwarded all complaints about Walker to his supervisors at Durham.
Channel 3 asked Durham if he was ever disciplined, or if there were any talks of removing him, but they could not comment.
The following is the complete correspondence from Hamilton County schools (WARNING: Some documents may contain graphic language):
READ MORE | Channel 3's coverage of the Woodmore bus crash
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