A school bus driver accused by the Loudoun County, Va., Sheriff's Office of taking matters into her own hands when she shouldn't have has been acquitted of assault charges.
Lavangila McKissic, 35, was placed on administrative leave after allegedly striking a disobedient student April 27. The sheriff's office said the bus was carrying students from Harmony Intermediate School that afternoon.
There was a 15-year-old boy on board playing his i-Pod.
"The student had an mp3 player that had a speaker system in it," said Loudoun County Sheriff’s spokesman Kraig Troxell. "The bus driver had told him several times to turn it down. For whatever reason, he didn't turn it down."
According to deputies, the bus was about a mile away from the school when the driver just got fed up.
"She actually stopped the bus in the middle of the street in the town of Purcellville, walked back to the student, grabbed the mp3 player and then struck him in the head at the same time," Troxell said.
McKissic was charged with simple assault, but the judge dismissed the charges Thursday, finding there was not enough evidence to go forward even before either side presented its cases.
The alleged victim reported the incident to his school resource officer, who then launched the investigation.
"They did follow up and interviewed the students that were on the bus and a couple of witnesses, as well as talking to the victim himself, as to what took place," Troxell said.
News4 went to McKissic's home in Round Hill, Va., in May, and she discussed the incident at length. McKissic's lawyer asked her not to talk to News4 on camera, but she said she is innocent of the charges and she believed the accusations were motivated by race and retaliation.
McKissic said the student is the son of the regular driver of the bus she was filling in on. She said she reported his behavior and the boy's parents are getting back at her with this accusation. She planned to make that case in court.
"People who are in the public trust need to understand that they need to follow the same rules as everybody else," Troxell said. "You can't just strike somebody's child if you feel they're misbehaving."
The school district said all of its buses are equipped with surveillance cameras that are active when the bus is in use. The sheriff's office said the camera on the bus was functional but was not running when the alleged assault happened.
McKissic has been a bus driver in Loudoun since 2007. She's been on paid administrative leave since the student made his complaint.