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'Clearly a racist act': After biracial boy dragged by school bus, school settles lawsuit


A Utah school district is paying $62,500 to settle a lawsuit filed after a junior high student was caught in a bus door and dragged by his backpack.

Brenda Mayes, the student’s mother, sued the Davis School District in May. She alleged that bus driver John Naisbitt intentionally closed the door on her 13-year-old biracial son’s backpack as he was getting off the bus.

Surveillance video from inside the school bus on February 4 shows several students getting off the bus before the driver appears to close the doors right behind the boy believed to be Mayes’s son, catching his backpack straps in the door before the bus drove about 150 to 175 feet.

The teen was not physically injured in the incident, where he was pinned to the outside of the door as the bus drove.

Mayes alleged district officials did not address the driver’s racial animus, bullying and harassment toward her son and other minority students.

Naisbitt told local news outlet KSTU he is not racist and pointed to the color of his dog as evidence. Naisbitt said the incident was staged after he disciplined the boy’s brother and that he retired in the days following the incident.

Mayes cited previous allegations to the news outlet as evidence of a history of a history of racial discrimination. She accused Naisbitt of closing doors on two other biracial boys, calling students “stupid” and “idiots,” and not stopping a white girl from bullying a younger Asian girl.

“The driver could have easily killed my child,” Mayes said in a Facebook post in early June. “Who uses a school bus as a weapon to bully a child?” 

The district and Mayes’ family reached the settlement of $62,500 less than a week ago, Mayes’ attorney Robert Sykes told CNN.

“This is a fair settlement and the family is happy about it. There was clearly a racist act, and this is a horrible thing that the bus driver did,” Sykes said.

Previously at Davis: Elementary student forced to wipe ashes cross off forehead

“We take these matters very seriously and do everything we can to protect students,” Davis School District spokeswoman Shauna Lund said in a statement to USA TODAY.

Mayes and Sykes did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.

Follow Elinor Aspegren on Twitter: @elinoraspegren. Contributing: The Associated Press.

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