Pointe Coupee bus driver suspended in incident involving child

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board decided to suspend a school bus driver Thursday for six months without pay and strip him of his tenure rights for leaving a 5-year-old student on his bus for several hours three months ago.

The board voted to suspend Roger Dixon, who has been employed by the school system for more than 20 years, rather than fire him, following a two-hour closed door tenure hearing and more than 45 minutes of private debate among board members.

The unanimous vote to suspend Dixon came after a motion to fire him failed in a 5-3 vote. Those voting to fire Dixon were Frank Aguillard, James Cline and Thomas Nelson. Those voting against firing him were Chad Aguillard, Brandon Bergeron, Leslie Ann Grezaffi, Kevin Hotard and Anita LeJeune.

“All I want to do is thank everyone for supporting me,” Dixon said after the hearing while surrounded by a group of supporters who testified on his behalf.

He declined to make any further comments.

As part of the board’s decision Thursday night, Dixon also will have to complete additional training that will be determined later by Superintendent Linda D’Amico.

Dixon has been suspended from the school system since Dec. 16 after a Rosenwald Elementary pre-kindergarten student was left sleeping in the back of Dixon’s bus after he parked it that morning.

School policy requires bus drivers and their aides to scan the bus every time students are dropped off at school and at the end of daily routes to ensure no children are left behind.

D’Amico said previously the aide that was working with Dixon was fired shortly after the incident occurred.

In a previous report, D’Amico said the child, who habitually fell asleep during bus trips to and from school, was not harmed in the incident but woke up calling out for help once he realized he had been abandoned on the bus. The child had been on the bus since approximately 7 a.m. that morning.

The bus was parked at Dixon’s home, at 302 Morningside St., New Roads. Dixon was at a dentist appointment when the child woke up.

The boy was later found walking along Railroad Avenue and was picked up and taken back to the Dixon’s house. Dixon then dropped the boy off at school around 11 a.m., according to previous reports.

Dixon was previously called a “top-notch bus driver” by school officials.