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School board discusses release of video

Posted at 7:08 AM, Dec 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-18 09:04:17-05

JACKSON, Mich. — The Northwest Community Schools Board of Education will facilitate the redaction and release of a school bus video, according to a press release.

The video will be released after students' faces are blurred, for their protection.

"The Board had challenged the release of the video to protect the identity of the students. The judge’s order accomplishes this important principle," said Geoff Bontrager in the press release.

The judge's order puts the cost of the redaction on the shoulders of the plaintiff rather than on the school districts and taxpayers, according to the release.

"Northwest Community Schools will research what the video editing will cost, then pass that information on to the plaintiff and await his response," according to the press release. "The Board is confident that the release of the video will dispel rumors about the Dean Transportation driver."


When will Northwest Community Schools comply with a judge's order to release video of a controversial school bus incident?

That was the question as the Northwest School Board, in Jackson County, discussed the issue in a closed-door meeting on Monday.

The district has been fighting requests to release the video from the very start.

A judge ordered them to release it last week, with some modifications.

This started back in August when parents claimed a bus driver forced students to roll up their windows on a hot day and drove around for an extra hour to punish kids for misbehaving.

Parents said the bus became hotter than normal, with one kid getting off a stop earlier.

District Superintendent Geoff Bontrager watched the surveillance video from inside the bus.

He told News 10 the driver kept the windows up because the students were sticking their hands out.

News 10 filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get the video but the district denied it, citing student privacy.

That's when recent Northwest graduate Lee Belding filed a lawsuit against the district, demanding they release the footage.

A judge agreed with Belding last week, and ordered Northwest Schools to release the video but said the children's faces would have to be blurred.

We will let you know of any updates as soon as we know and we will, of course, be showing you that bus video as soon as it's released.

The person driving the bus worked for Dean Transportation and was a substitute for that route.

The district asked that he not return.