The afternoon of March 29 was not Jackie Miller’s finest moment, a fact she readily admits. But the former school bus driver doesn’t take back the tongue-lashing she gave several junior high students on her route, more than a few choice words that were captured on cellphone video and went viral.
Miller resigned her position from Amherst Exempted Village Schools near Cleveland, Ohio, shortly after the over 2-minute video started racking up millions of views on Facebook and Tik Tok. In fact, as she sat down in the driver’s seat following the tirade, she said figured that what had just transpired would not end well for her. But she had reached her breaking point, as her repeated reports about the student misbehavior went unheeded by the junior high school principal.
“I don’t know what their policy is there at the junior high, I really don’t. Whether [they] actually, you know, do something with these or are they thrown in the wastebasket? I have no idea,” she explained of her frustration.
The behavior issues stem from four junior high students on a route of more than 50 that go back to last school year. They bullied. They repeatedly called each other’s cell phones, so they’d ring aloud throughout the bus ride. They would excessively spray perfume, knowing full well that Miller has asthma. They provoked her and gaslighted her, she said.
She had enough last week. She tells one student in the video, “I’m going to stick my foot so far up your [expletive] that it’s going to be dangling out your nose.”
That quote soon prompted a new T-shirt from a local apparel company, Mistakes on the Lake.
“I got back to the barn and I parked my bus,” Miller recalled in an interview with School Transportation News on Wednesday, one week after the incident. “I went into dispatch and I told the dispatcher, I said, I really don’t think I’m coming back after spring break because I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t. And I punched out and went home.”
A couple of hours later, she said she received a phone call from the district superintendent informing her she was placed on paid administrative leave pending a full investigation.
“I told him no,” Miller continued. “I said I resigned immediately because to me right at that moment, and I still hold true to this, it was the right thing to do.”
Superintendent Mike Molnar stated in an email to STN that he was on the phone with Miller no more than 30 seconds last week when she resigned. “After I offered paid administrative leave, she still wanted to resign and emailed me a written resignation after our phone conversation,” he added.
Letter Sent to Parents Following Incident
Dear Amherst Parents,
This evening, I received a video circulating on social media of a bus driver using inappropriate and offensive language towards students. The behavior exhibited by the bus driver is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. I have accepted the bus driver’s resignation effective immediately and the incident will be fully investigated. The actions of the bus driver do not represent the values and standards we uphold as a district and do not reflect our commitment to providing a safe, caring, and compassionate educational environment.
Moving forward, our Transportation Department will review its procedures to make sure we are handling situations appropriately for the safety of our students. The district will also continue to support our bus drivers with proper training and professional development.
As Superintendent, I will continue to focus my energy and efforts on creating a positive and safe environment for all students and staff. I believe that open communication and constructive feedback from our community help us create a stronger and more supportive environment.
Molnar said a “random parent” posted the video of Miller’s on-board eruption on Tik Tok and the district is in the process of notifying the parents of the identified students who broke the code of conduct to mete out “appropriate consequences.”
He did not respond to a question about Miller’s previous and repeated complaints regarding the student behavior issues.
Miller said it was never her intention to become a celebrity, but at least for this news cycle, she is one, her story being featured on local and national newscasts. As for the support she’s received, thanks can be given to a man she had never met before last week. Jeff Grob, also a Cleveland-area resident, said when he came across the video it had already amassed a million views. He wanted to help Miller and quickly erected a GoFundMe page to provide some financial relief for the grandmother of five.
At this report, the donations surpassed $94,000.
“I just want to raise awareness to the underlying issue,” he told STN from vacation in Florida this week. “She’s an amazing person who has never had a complaint from a student or a parent. … Most of her kids love her. And I’ve had a lot of good stories coming in on her side, from people that personally know her. She just got pushed past the breaking point, and we all have at times with our own kids.
“She basically said what every bus driver has wanted to say but can’t because they are so afraid of losing their jobs and their livelihoods,” he continued. “There are a lot of comments saying it’s a bad thing that I’m supporting her. But there [are] 900,000 more people that are saying, we are 100 percent on your side, maybe not the language [used in the video] but that if you didn’t go that far, you wouldn’t have gotten this attention.”
Grob said his own children have been sexually harassed and bullied on their own school bus, and parents can be even worse at bus stops. He said his son has broken up several fights, and his daughter wears noise-canceling headphones to drown out the other students’ repeated screaming and bad words.
“I’ve complained to the principal, the bus garage and the drivers, and nothing happens,” he continued. “My whole hope was that by this happening, maybe I can see some reform for my own kids on the bus.”
As for Miller, she said it came as no surprise when asked if she knew what STN readers said is the No. 1 reason for school bus drivers resigning.
“It’s behavior, student behavior,” she said.
Overall, she still looks back fondly on her school bus driving career, as she said she mostly loved the students she drove, both at Amherst the past three years and before that for six years at Tomball Independent School District near Houston, Texas. In between, she and her husband, both of who are former long-haul truckers, drove adults with special needs to and from vocational workshops until COVID-19 shut the organization down.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. It has been amazing,” she said, adding she has received donations and apologies of past misbehavior from former students of hers who are now adults.
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