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    Police-Fire Reports
    Tuesday, April 16, 2024

    Salem bus driver arrested after forcibly placing 9-year-old student into a seat

    Salem ― A bus driver with M&J Bus Inc. has been charged with risk of injury to a minor and second-degree breach of peace after state police said she forcibly moved a student from the back of the bus to the front.

    Bergeline Mesidor, 47, of 176 Prospect St., Apt. 1, Norwich, was charged Feb. 6 at the Colchester barracks of the Connecticut State Police. She was released on a promise to appear at Norwich Superior Court on Feb. 22.

    M&J Bus Inc. spokesman Jon Hipsher this week declined to comment on the incident and would not divulge whether Mesidor is still employed by the bus company.

    “It’s not the public’s business,” he said.

    Superintendent of Schools Brian Hendrickson said this week through his assistant that Mesidor remains on administrative leave and will no longer be driving for Salem schools.

    The arrest warrant affidavit written by Resident State Trooper Benjamin Duffy said police became involved after the mother of a 9-year-old boy contacted the barracks on Jan. 6 about an incident that happened the day before during school dismissal.

    The boy subsequently told Duffy that he and another student had been hitting each other’s hats when Mesidor ripped him from his seat and threw him to the ground, then pulled him back up and threw him in a new seat.

    Four other students said the driver grabbed the boy by his clothes and physically escorted him to a new seat, the affidavit said.

    Mesidor in two separate statements to state police said she never physically moved the student.

    No video was recorded from inside the bus because the vehicle was not running at the time, according to the affidavit. But Duffy was able to obtain school security video from a camera facing the bus. The trooper said movements he saw on the video did not match statements from Mesidor, who told him she asked the boy to move to the front of the bus but was not near him or facing him when he switched seats.

    School officials last week informed families of the arrest in an emailed letter from Hendrickson.

    “As a result of that incident, the Salem School District notified law enforcement and the Department of Children and Families on January 5, 2024, and the driver was immediately placed on leave by the bus company,” Hendrickson wrote.

    But Duffy on Friday confirmed the call that sparked the police investigation came from the boy’s mother on Jan. 6.

    The arrest warrant affidavit states that Salem School Principal Dan Driscoll was informed of the incident by the child’s mother on Jan. 5 and was told by the bus company that no contact was observed on video. He told Duffy he didn’t make a report to DCF until he saw the issue being discussed in a social media post that Sunday.

    The state’s mandated reporter law requires school officials to make a report to DCF or police within 12 hours of learning of abuse or neglect of a child.

    Driscoll told Duffy he made the online DCF referral “based on the nature of the allegations in the social media post” that weren’t originally described to him on Jan. 5.

    DCF Bureau Chief of External Affairs Ken Mysogland said Thursday the agency was alerted by the child’s daycare provider on Jan. 5. DCF wasn’t notified by the school district until reports were made by Driscoll on Jan. 7 and 8, he said.

    Driscoll, though, said he was told by the boy’s mother on Jan. 5 that the day care provider had made a report to DCF.

    Hendrickson, asked about the the discrepancy between the timeline in the letter sent to parents and the information provided by DCF and state police, provided a brief statement.

    “Information provided to the Superintendent on Friday, January 5th indicated that school personnel/M&J bus company directly confirmed with both State Police and DCF that the incident was under investigation,” he said. “Additionally, DCF has confirmed that all mandated reporter duties were handled appropriately.”

    Mysogland declined to verify that mandated reporter duties were adequately addressed by the school district.

    e.regan@theday.com

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