Video shows Iowa school bus driver assaulting student, authorities say


A school bus driver in central Iowa was arrested Thursday on charges that he assaulted a student on a packed bus, an incident that authorities say other riders recorded on their cellphones.

Robert Scarbrough, 60, is accused of attacking a 15-year-old boy as students from a school district in the Des Moines suburb of Johnston watched. Police say the department received video of the Thursday incident and is aware of a second video circulating online.

One video shows students yelling at a man who appears to hit a student at the back of the bus. Riders can be heard gasping as the student is struck. At one point, at least one student is visibly upset and yells at the man to stop. The man responds by pointing at the yelling student and telling him to be quiet.


Johnston Police Department Lt. Lynn Aswegan said the 15-year-old who was hit has a mental disability. An investigation determined the assault happened after the driver gave the student instructions on a seat assignment and the student responded with an inflammatory comment, Aswegan said.

The teen was treated in an ambulance but he was not transported for further medical care, according to the Johnston Community School District.

The district said in a statement that “it appears as though the driver made a series of poor choices regarding how to handle the student’s behavior.”

Scarbrough, of West Des Moines, was arrested after some students left the bus and told a nearby sheriff’s deputy about the incident, according to Aswegan. Scarbrough is being held at the Polk County Jail on charges of assault causing bodily injury and child endangerment. Court records do not list an attorney.

The school district said Scarbrough, who drove the bus for a middle school, is on administrative leave. The district is offering counseling to students who were on the bus.

“We recognize students who were on the bus or saw the video may be unsettled by what they witnessed,” the statement reads.