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Defendants respond in suit over child left on Bentonville school bus



BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The defendants in a lawsuit filed after a five-year-old boy was left on a Bentonville school bus for several hours submitted a response in Benton County Circuit Court.

The suit, filed by Michael and Michella Carpenter on October 24, named the Bentonville Public School District and several individuals as defendants, including superintendent Debbie Jones, school board president Eric White, school board vice president Kelly Carlson, transportation director Jason Salmons, several school board members and multiple administrative staff members.

On September 19, the Carpenter’s kindergarten student son boarded his bus at approximately 6:15 a.m. “as was the typical morning routine,” according to court documents. Almost five hours later, his parents received a call telling them that he “somehow had not unloaded from the bus and could be found at the transportation yard.”

The Carpenter’s filing stated that no attempt was made to contact 911 despite suggestions to do so by the nurse and the district’s Director of Nursing.

“In the 4-hour period he sat abandoned on the school bus, he alternately called out for his mom and dad and his dog, sweated profusely, cried intermittently, and eventually, there being no facilities on the bus, urinated on himself where he remained in his assigned seat.”

Michael and Michella Carpenter vs. Bentonville Public School District et al, October 24

In the November 21 response, the defendants denied the majority of allegations and noted immunity as a defense to certain charges due to their having liability insurance. The filing also alleged that the plaintiffs are “not entitled to an award of punitive damages and that any award of punitive damages against these defendants would be unconstitutional as violative of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment.”

It also cited the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Later in the response, the defendants reiterated that they are insured under a “certain policy of insurance” and that they are “immune from all lawsuits and liability.”

The response concluded by asking for the complaint to be dismissed and also requested that costs and “proper relief” be paid by the plaintiffs.



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