MOORHEAD – A police report has shed more light on what preceded a Moorhead school bus driver’s decision to abandon about 20 students in the city's industrial park and use a racial slur as they got off the bus.
Video from the bus shows that the driver, David Russell Miller of Moorhead, got into a round of name-calling with two or three Horizon Middle School students as he drove them home on Tuesday, Nov. 22, according to the report released Tuesday, Nov. 29.
During the back-and-forth between the driver and students, Miller was called the N-word twice, the report stated. Because the students’ names are redacted in the report, it’s difficult to tell whether one or two students called him the N-word.
Miller, who is white, replied by saying, “You’re an (N-word) too,” and a student responded by using a slur for a white person against Miller, the report stated.
Soon afterward, Miller told all the students to get off the bus in the 2500 block of 12th Avenue South. As students left the bus, Miller said, “You (N-words). Get off my bus,” according to the report.
“When a student tells him not to say that word, he replies that they said it to him,” the report reads.
After leaving the bus, one student threw a handful of sand at Miller, the report said.
On Tuesday, Superintendent Lynne Kovash declined to divulge the race or races of the students involved in the dispute with Miller. She previously said "quite a few" of the students on the bus were black.
Before the bus left the middle school, the school's head of security and a Moorhead police officer were called to the bus because a student who was not supposed to be on board refused to get off. Another student told the officer she believed Miller was racist because he was making all the black students sit at the front of the bus, and the officer told her several other black students on the bus, including herself, were not sitting at the front, the report said.
Attempts to reach Miller by phone were unsuccessful Tuesday. He was fired Friday, Nov. 25, from his job as a driver for Red River Trails, a company contracted to provide buses and drivers for the Moorhead School District, according to the company.
Kovash said school officials met with all of the students Monday, Nov. 28, apologized for what happened and let them know counseling is available. "Whether they were misbehaving or not, they should have never been dropped off like that," she said.
Another bus was immediately sent to pick up the students, but many of them had already secured other rides, Kovash said. The incident was reported to the Minnesota Department of Education, Clay County Social Services and the Moorhead Police Department, she said. No criminal charges are expected.
Kovash said school officials are not investigating the driver's actions because he is not a district employee. The district, however, is investigating the students' behavior on the bus, she said.
Kovash said she rode the bus route Monday afternoon to see how the kids were faring and to ensure there was good behavior. She said almost all the students thanked the new driver as they got off.
“There are good kids on these buses,” she said. “They’re not all bad.”