Duval school bus driver arrested, parents claim the district didn’t notify them

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Duval County school bus driver was arrested for sex abuse, and some parents said they weren’t notified by the district and instead found out on the news.

Frank Connell is being charged with one count of sexual battery.

“I was horrified,” Rio Ramirez Gibbs, a parent in Black Hammock Island, said. “We’re all watching the news and my son was actually the one who pointed and said ‘That’s Mr. Frank’. And everybody just stopped and stared at the TV.”

Connell is accused of multiple sexual abuse incidents dating back to 2013. According to an arrest report, a victim told police that the suspect forced them to give oral sex in his truck at a gas station.

Police said there were also several incidents where Connell touched the victim inappropriately including while watching TV.

A representative for Duval County Public Schools said because the case does not involve any students, it did not send a notification out to parents. The district explained this case is different from the recent Douglas Anderson arrests which did involve students and a message was sent out.

READ: Former Douglas Anderson students, staff demanding accountability and transparency amid investigation

“It scares me because there’s no transparency. I’m giving full faith in the school to give the kids a safe environment. I’m giving full faith to the transportation to do the same,” Ramirez Gibbs said.

She also said since the arrest last week, the route has been delayed by sometimes more than two hours and in some cases, the bus hasn’t shown up.

“If we don’t have those options, it means you’re waiting for an hour in the morning. You have to wait three hours in the afternoon. Work isn’t going to accommodate that every day,” Ramirez Gibbs said.

DCPS said its bus contractors, like many across the country, are also dealing with a driver shortage and encouraged community members to look at Student Transportation of America’s hiring page.

Action News Jax also reached out to STA, the company Connell previously worked for. It did not respond to our request before this article was published.

After the arrest was announced, an STA representative said, “Last night, we were made aware of the arrest of one of our Jacksonville-based drivers. This driver was immediately suspended and removed from all routes pending the outcome of the law enforcement investigation. We will continue to assist the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in its ongoing investigation. The safety of our students, employees, and the communities we serve remains our number one priority.”

DCPS said parents can track bus delays on its website HERE.

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