|Four year old Ethan Cates with his mother Julie Cates, Oct. 3,2012. (QMI Agency/ERROL MCGIHON)
OTTAWA - A school bus driver has been stripped of his route after allegedly humiliating a kindergartner.
Ethan Cates got off his bus Tuesday afternoon with a new decoration on his hat -- a piece of masking tape that said “Trouble Ethan.”
Minutes earlier, the young boy stood in front of the kids on the bus as the driver allegedly proclaimed to one and all that Ethan was trouble.
“I’m not bad, mummy,” the boy said when his mother Julie Cates picked him up from daycare.
“And of course my heart breaks for him,” she said.
Ethan has been getting his first taste of the wider world, taking the Stock Transportation-operated bus every day to Greely Elementary School.
The junior kindergarten student is already learning at a senior kindergarten level, thanks to a split class.
But a boy so young hasn’t dealt much with bullies, so it was a new and frightening experience to stand at the front of the big yellow bus with all those big kids looking on and laughing.
A kid in Grade 6 looks mighty old when you’re a four-year-old junior kindergarten kid -- even if you’re 4 1/2.
But if Ethan is trouble, they haven’t met his mother.
Livid, she got on the horn with the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority, which is responsible for investigating complaints against drivers.
The authority yanked the driver off the road.
General Manager Vicky Kyriaco said that’s standard procedure -- the authority doesn’t want drivers under investigation to interact with kids until staff have all the facts.
A Stock spokesman confirmed the driver won’t be driving his usual route pending the outcome of the investigation. It will ultimately be up to Stock to determine what discipline is appropriate, if any.
If Ethan has been getting up to mischief on the bus, Cates should have been informed.
For a first offence, authority policy is for the bus driver to contact the school principal, who must then alert the parents.
Cates hadn’t heard a peep.
The investigation will take several days, but Cates knows how she’d like it to end.
“I don’t think I would feel comfortable knowing that there’s somebody driving around a school bus full of kids who’s bullying them,” she said.
But is Ethan trouble?
“He’s a 4-1/2-year-old boy,” she said. “Is he generally trouble? No -- he’s generally a sweet, loving child.”
“Does he get into trouble? Of course.”