Sumter Co. bus driver speaks out after getting fired

Dolores Rainwater now wants to know why she was fired after she said a student hit her in the face.

GASTON, SC (WACH)--Dolores Rainwater has driven school buses for 15 years; 2 years for the Sumter School District.

The Gaston woman said she took pride in her job, but Rainwater now wants to know why she was fired after she said a student hit her in the face.

Rainwater said school bus video from March 1, 2013 shows she was hit in the face by a 17-year-old Crestwood High School student. The experienced bus driver said she had a history of problems with the teen, but the latest round started when the girl moved the 61-year-old's jacket.

"I asked her 'What did you do with my jacket?'" Rainwater said. "She did not answer me. She looked at me like a typical teenager that does not want to answer you. I said 'Don't look at me like that. I asked you what did you do with my jacket? Is that why you do not have any friends? Because you are very mean."

According to an incident report, the student said Rainwater threatened to slap her if she student did not shut up. Video from the Sumter Co. Sheriff's Department shows the student moved to the middle of the buss with friends to avoid conflict.

Rainwater, a grandmother of six, said she thought about calling police, but figured things would settle down. That was not the case by the time the bus arrived at Crestwood High.

"She got probably four feet from me and dove at my face with her fist," Rainwater said. She punched me approximately four to five times. Your natural instinct is to protect yourself. I lost my balance. I had no reason to fight this girl."

In a statement, District Spokesperson Shelly Galloway said, "After an investigation in conjunction with law enforcement, appropriate action was taken. The driver was terminated. I cannot comment on the individual disciplinary action of a student."

Rainwater was charged with simple assault and fired for provoking the student. Rainwater argues the district did not do enough to stop issues on her bus route.

"They put a monitor on the bus with me for 4-5 weeks. I was told that they were going to move me off the route because of the threats. That did not happen."

The student in question was sent to the Sumter-Lee Detention Center and charged with Assault and Battery in March. She was free on bond.

Rainwater plans on contacting school board members to see what she can do. She currently has a part time job, but needs more money to help pay for bills, her car, and an oxygen tank.

After much thought, she has no desire to get her old job back.