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Polk Co. school bus driver arrested, accused of staging student fight

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Updated: 5/11/2013 9:47 pm
POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFTV) -- Cellphone video that shows students fighting both inside and outside of a school bus landed a bus driver in jail Friday. 

Deputies said the driver took the students to her house so they could fight.

Not surprisingly, students pulled out their cellphones and recorded the fight.

One of the girls involved had to be taken to the hospital hours after fighting a girl three years older than her. Once at the hospital the girl's mother reported the incident.

Hours later the driver, who witnesses said was heard saying that the girls "need to fight this out" was arrested.

In the video the two girls are seen throwing punches and pulling hair, all while school bus passengers and the bus driver Patrice Sanders, 29, watch. 

"It makes me very angry because she took an argument between two kids and said, 'We're going to handle this today,'" said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Sanders had a bus full of students from three Bartow schools when two girls began arguing on the bus. They said that's when deputies Sanders decided to drive the entire group to her home, 23 miles away, so the 13- and 16-year-old girls could fight it out.

"Not only did she not deal with the argument, she encouraged it with her conduct," said Judd.

The younger girl told deputies that she told Sanders that she didn't want to fight, but Sanders told her she'd get her some baby oil or Vaseline so her face wouldn't get cut. She said Sanders couldn't find oil or Vaseline and the fight went on, despite the younger girl's objections. 

Deputies said about 30 students watched and cheered on the girls. The bus driver was seen on camera watching and cheering as well.

"Patrice Sanders is our poster child and I have one thing to say to her, 'Come on girl, what were you thinking?" said Judd.

Deputies said the girls fought to the point of exhaustion and then returned to the bus, where they fought again as Sander drove. According to deputies, Sanders pulled the bus over to allow them to continue to fight.
"How can you for a second think with all those kids, and all those video clips, that that was going to stay quiet?" said Judd.
 
Deputies said Sanders told the kids, "What happens on the bus stays on the bus."
Hours later, police were called, the video was turned over  and Sanders was arrested.
 
"What are you thinking? What are you thinking? So yes, it's frustrating," Judd said.

Sanders is charged with false imprisonment, child abuse, child neglect, and delinquency of a minor. 

Friday afternoon the Polk County School System sent out a note saying that, "Ms. Sanders has been suspended without pay with a recommendation for immediate termination."
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Fred Thompson - 5/12/2013 9:30 PM
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Drove them 23 miles "off the route"??!! THATS ABDUCTION. To her home to insite violence!? Throw the book at her' this bad wrong. Charge the bus driver with KIDNAPPING ( 1 count per student) just IGNORANCE GALORE!!!!!
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