NANFA-- Gator Goes for Ride on Fla. School Bus (OT)
Tue, 9 Mar 2004 14:52:29 EST

Maybe someone sould teach them that collecting Fish is a little safer

Gator Goes for Ride on Fla. School Bus

.c The Associated Press

LACOOCHEE, Fla. (AP) - Middle and high school students were riding home from
school when they spotted a 4-foot alligator crossing the road, were allowed
off the school bus to catch it and took it home.

None of the 11 students on the bus were injured, and the alligator was fine
when it was released into a nearby river by the father of two of the boys.

State wildlife officials and the Pasco County State Attorney's Office are
investigating the bus driver. Sherry Hattaway, 41, has been on paid leave since
the Thursday incident.

``If the facts I'm hearing are true, then at the least she used some of the
worst judgment someone could use in endangering kids,'' Pasco school
superintendent John Long said.

Hattaway did not immediately return a telephone call for comment Tuesday.

The alligator was spotted as it crossed the road in front of the bus, said
passenger Wilfredo Santiago, 14, who asked the driver to stop.

At first she refused, but a group of boys talked her into letting them off
about 40 miles northeast of Tampa. Four boys ran off the bus, found the
alligator hiding in a hole and used sticks to prod the animal out. A fifth student
gave them a roll of electrical tape from the bus to bind the alligator's jaws.

The gator was hauled onto the bus and off again at the home of two boys.
Their father Jimmy Scroggins came home to find a crowd of kids around the calm

Scroggins took the animal to the nearby Withlacoochee River and released it.
The next day, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers were
at his house.

Hattaway has an unmarred driving history, according to district personnel
files and state driving records. Job references said she was ``good'' and
``excellent'' with children. Six evaluations gave her consistent satisfactory
ratings, including for bus discipline and reliability.

Scroggins said that while he didn't condone his children's actions, he was
more befuddled by the driver's.

``Kids are going to do what kids are going to do,'' he said. ``But there was
a consenting adult involved.''

03/09/04 13:04 EST
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