A school bus driver in Elgin Independent School District has been fired following a mom’s complaints about his inappropriate “grooming” behavior toward her 11-year-old daughter. District officials initially just transferred him to a different route, but more parents spoke up after the mom made her story public.
Elgin ISD Superintendent Jana Rueter sent a message Thursday to parents whose children rode the driver’s bus, saying he had been terminated after reports that his behavior and actions made a student uncomfortable.
Parents identified the driver as Jimmy Kerlin, who drove bus route 41.
“At this point it’s looking like they reacted to the community and social media concerns and not the parents,” said Amanda Kelley, a Belton mom and education advocate. Kelley got involved after the girl’s mother, a friend of the family, shared her story online:
My 11-year-old daughter has been groomed every day by her bus driver. They make a stop every evening at Elgin ISD to pick up the high school students. Her driver will go sit with my daughter or next to her and reach over the seats to touch her face and pull her mask down with statements like, “In order to ride my bus, you have to take your mask off so I can see your pretty face,” or so he can count her freckles.
He would ask for my child’s personal information about her father and me, who all live in her home.
“My child was obviously uncomfortable,” the girl’s mom said, sharing pictures taken by her older child. “I reported it to Elgin Transportation, where an investigation was held. However, this driver was placed on another route without suspension or termination.”
“I am completely shaken by this,” the mom added.
The mom said she first reported Kerlin’s behavior on March 22. The next two days, a bus monitor was on the route, but Kerlin continued to bother her daughter. The following Monday, her daughter’s bus had a new driver and Kerlin was placed on another route.
Kelley contacted district officials on April 5, asking if it was Elgin ISD’s policy to move a driver to a different route following a complaint.
She said Kerlin was “caught on camera making multiple children uncomfortable.”
“After speaking with multiple parents, I understand this isn’t an isolated occurrence,” Kelley added.
On April 6, Kelley spoke with the district’s Director of Transportation Alejandro Guerra, who said he was still investigating.
Later that day, the superintendent announced that Kerlin had been fired.
“I think Elgin ISD eventually got it right by terminating the bus driver, but they should’ve removed him the moment the mom let them know what was going on,” Kelley told Texas Scorecard.
“At the very least, put him on leave so they could be sure he wouldn’t hurt any more children,” she added. “Parents shouldn’t have to fight so hard for school districts to take concerns seriously.”