Friday, July 27, 2007

Bus driver fired

The school bus driver arrested in May after he allegedly cursed and spit at Muslim children in a local fast-food restaurant has lost his job at Bay District Schools.

The School Board voted at Wednesday’s meeting to support Superintendent James McCalister‘s recommendation that Thomas Eugene Plaisted, 60, be suspended without pay and terminated. Plaisted did not attend the meeting.

“I talked to him and informed him, and he knows that I was going to make this recommendation,” McCalister told the board. “I told him he and his counsel could talk to the board, but he indicated to me that he would not be present and would not dispute it.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has deemed the alleged incident, which occurred at Taco Bell on State 77 in Lynn Haven, a hate crime. According to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, Plaisted was in the restaurant when 36-yearold Asma Sidani, wearing a traditional Muslim head scarf, entered with her two children. When she went to the counter to order, Plaisted cursed and made threatening gestures at the children, deputies reported. He also allegedly spit on one boy and shoved the other.

Plaisted is due back in court Aug. 22 to face two counts of evidencing prejudice while committing an offense. He has pleaded not guilty.

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