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Published: Thursday, 1/29/2004

4 arrested after fight on bus

Four Byrnedale Junior High School students, all girls, were arrested Monday after a fight involving two of them aboard a TARTA bus.

The altercation, which occurred about 3:30 p.m., was videotaped by another student.

All four girls, whose ages range from 12 to 14, were charged with misdemeanor violations of the safe-school ordinance, and were taken to the Lucas County Juvenile Justice Center.

The videotape, broadcast on local television news programs Tuesday and yesterday, showed one of the girls beating the other toward the rear of the bus.

James Gee, general manager of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority, said the driver followed procedure after the fight broke out by pulling the bus over and having the bus dispatcher call police.

Along with the combatants arrests, police detained two other girls whom they said were unruly at the scene after officers arrived.

According to the report, one girl pushed the bus driver in an attempt to get back on the bus and engage in the fight, while the other was loud and disorderly and disobeyed police orders to “be quiet,” the report said.

The fight had its origins in an incident between the two girls last summer, police said.

“We are definitely interested in seeing the videotape,” Ms. Bruss said, though she and Mr. Gee both said they had no idea how another student aboard the Byrnedale bus happened to have a video camera.

“Students are not allowed to have electronic devices in school during the school day. But of course, this was not during the school day that this happened,” Ms. Bruss said.

Mr. Gee said along with the arrests, student bus passes were confiscated from everyone who was involved.

TARTA transports students to and from Toledo Public Schools under a contract with the school district.

For several schools, including Byrnedale, it schedules specific bus trips timed to deliver children in the morning and take them home in the afternoon.

Although the buses are listed in public timetables and open to any rider, they are used almost exclusively by students.

The fight is not the first disturbance reported on TARTA buses carrying schoolchildren this year. Several times in the fall, unruly students prompted bus drivers to threaten to return them to their schools - a threat that was carried out at least once.

TARTA policy, Mr. Gee said, is for drivers to pull over and get instructions from the dispatcher. In lesser incidents, the dispatcher may grant authority to return to the school.

“We don t want our drivers, for safety reasons, to go back there and break up fights,” Mr. Gee said. “It puts our drivers in danger. And if the driver were to be incapacitated, there d be no one to call the authorities.”

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