Woman charged in bus driver assault incident

Published 9:40 am Monday, May 1, 2023

CHINA GROVE — The woman who allegedly assaulted a Rowan-Salisbury Schools bus driver last week was arrested on Saturday.

Estella Tucker, 29, faces multiple charges including misdemeanor assault on a school official, misdemeanor communicating threats, misdemeanor disturbing the peace and misdemeanor trespassing on a school bus after being forbidden.

According to Rowan County Sheriff’s reports, Tucker engaged the Corriher-Lipe Middle School bus driver in a confrontation that became physical around 4 p.m. on April 24.

The incident occurred on Willow Oaks Drive, when the bus driver missed a student’s stop.

According to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, when the student brought it up to the driver, she told the child she would have to return to the stop. The student notified the driver that the mother was on the phone and that she was insisting her child get off at the next stop.

Per Rowan-Salisbury Schools policy, students cannot get off the bus except at their pre-approved stops, so the driver declined.

When the bus driver returned to the missed stop, the mother was waiting. According to the sheriff’s office, the mother aggressively entered the bus and began shouting obscenities and threatening the bus driver.

During the exchange, the woman reportedly struck the bus driver in the right eye with her left index finger.

Shortly after that, a man approached the bus and got the mother to exit, but she continued yelling even after she was off the bus.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Rowan-Salisbury Schools District said, “Rowan-Salisbury Schools holds school buses as sacred spaces where only those who belong are allowed. A school bus leaves the security of campus and goes out among the community into public spaces. For that reason, the bus driver is the gatekeeper of safety for the students on that bus.

“The safety protocols in place are to protect all students and the driver while out in these public spaces. Because of this enormous responsibility, school bus drivers are only allowed to drop off students at their assigned locations regardless of parent preference, and by law, no one is allowed to trespass upon a public school bus.”

In a Thursday phone call, the school spokesperson said, “(The bus driver) acted according to the safety protocol in terms of only dropping students off at designated stops.”

According to the spokesperson, the district determined that the driver did not respond to the situation or the parent in any way that would require reprimand.