A Lakeland, Florida, bus driver was placed on paid administrative leave after being accused of voicing her opinions about a student.
The Ledger reported on Monday that bus driver Violeta Jacobo allegedly told a second-grader that he and his two mothers were going to hell because of his parents’ same-sex relationship.
Mother Nathaly Encarnacion told The Ledger on Tuesday she was unhappy with the initial response from Polk County School Board members. She claimed the school district ignored the incident after having Jacobo sign a policy advisory letter.
"We are extremely devastated with what's happened, and we feel the school board ... hasn't had the right response with us," Encarnacion said. "I feel like this kind of thing can't be happening in our schools. Issues like this shouldn't be swept under the rug and hoped that they'll go away. There's been a lot of back and forth ... I know the investigation has now been initiated, but it took us over a month ... and it's unacceptable."
The Ledger reported that the incident, which happened Feb. 8, occurred when the Alta Vista Elementary student missed his usual bus and took a different bus home.
Encarnacion told the newspaper her son took a different bus home and came home with a Jehovah's Witness business card and said that his mothers could not be together or they would go to hell.
District spokesman Kyle Kennedy said Jacobo is on paid leave.
Encarnacion’s community rallied behind her by creating a petition on change.org for the school to take disciplinary action against Jacobo.
WFLA reported the school issued a statement Tuesday:
We are aware of the serious allegations against bus driver Violeta Jacobo, and currently an internal investigation is taking place.
It has never been the policy of the Polk County School District for employees to speak with students about religious matters. We are deeply concerned that one of our employees has been accused of such behavior. This employee has been placed on paid administrative leave while we conduct our internal investigation.
As part of this inquiry, we will be speaking with the student’s mother. Counseling services are available for the student upon the family’s request.
We will not be providing interviews or further comments at this time due to the pending nature of our internal investigation.