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Students report being targeted, beaten up and robbed by peers on Metro buses

Posted at 5:58 PM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 19:08:17-05

CINCINNATI — Some Dater High School students have reported that classmates are robbing and assaulting them on Metro buses and at the bus stop.

One group of students in particular have reported the attacks: students whose families have migrated to the city to escape violence in Central America. Now parents and advocates said they're worrying about their safety here, among classmates.

"I heard one kid ended up with a bloody face, taking their phones, taking their money," said Nancy Sullivan, with Transformations CDC. She's working as an activist for the children who have reported the assault crimes they said were committed. She's speaking for the parents of the children, because many of them are too afraid to go on camera.

The students being targeted don't always speak much English, and many of them also work jobs after school to help their parents and siblings.

"So they have cash, and that makes a very easy target," said Sullivan.

Metro is funded by taxpayers, who provide more than $10 million a year to bus high school students to their classes. The contract differs from standard yellow buses, which also often offer more protection and adult supervision. WCPO has requested video of incidents involving Dater High School students on Metro buses, and the district said they're also working to get those videos.

Sullivan said last year, security and police officers monitored bus routes; Cincinnati Public Schools said that's still the case this year, but only for routes identified as a problem through reports to Metro or incident reports to school administration.

"We have had CPD officers assigned to bus routes in previous years; we are working to confirm the number of officers and routes," said CPS in a statement.

Metro said Cincinnati Police were already in possession of video from them as a part of their investigation into the incidents.

"As I mentioned, we've been actively working with the police, as well as CPS, on this investigation," said Brandy Jones, vice president of external affairs for Metro, in a statement. "The safety and security of our passengers is our top priority. We take a number of safety measures to aid in this effort, including cameras on all of our buses, customer-facing onboard security monitors on our newest buses, and deploy a police detail to address any known issues or situations on particular routes."

In the meantime, Moroski said he plans to propose more levels of protection at Wednesday evening's meeting. He specifically mentioned proposing a requirement for Metro drivers to file formal incident reports, and a process that would make sharing the videos from Metro buses easier.

"While we are looking at some sort of restorative practice, we can do peer mediation, peer mentoring internally," said Mike Moroski, school board member. "In my opinion, from where I sit, there's more we can maybe do with our awesome partners at Metro."

Police said they don't track how many students specifically report crimes on a Metro, so the amount of incidents and how often they've been reported are still unclear.