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Bus driver pleads guilty to menacing

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SALYERSVILLE – A long-time Magoffin County bus driver has been fired after pleading guilty regarding an incident that occurred on his bus with a 17-year-old.

Magoffin County Schools Superintendent Scott Helton issued the press release on Monday, March 9:

On March 5, 2020, the Magoffin County Board of Education was notified of an incident involving a student bus monitor and bus driver for the district.

We promptly acted on this alleged incident. We contacted the Kentucky State Police, Post 9, Pikeville Division and a licensed Big Sandy Regional social worker employed through the Magoffin County Department of Protection and Permanency.

The combined investigation resulted in criminal charges being brought in Magoffin District Court against the bus driver.

The bus driver was immediately suspended from employment on March 5, 2020, and has now been terminated from his employment as bus driver for the Magoffin County School system.

Helton said he was notified around 8:30 a.m. on March 5 by a couple employees at the district level that they had received a complaint on one of their bus drivers and that the complaint had come from one of their student bus monitors.

“This is the first year that we actually allowed our senior students to monitor our head start students and, with the situation at hand, this student was on the bus approximately a day and a half,” Helton said. 

The original bus monitor, who is an adult, was out sick and the student was subbing.

“We try to do these kinds of things to help our students,” Helton said of the program. “This is a way for them to generate some money to go on senior trips and things of that nature and other districts around are doing the same thing.”

Student bus monitors are only allowed to work with preschool and head start students.

“When we were notified of the incident, we contacted KSP District 9 and social services and a social worker was sent to our office along with a couple from KSP, who conducted part of their investigation on site, along with myself,” Helton said. 

According to the criminal complaint filed by Kentucky State Police Trooper Jimmie Stratton, the Magoffin County Board of Education contacted KSP regarding a report made to school officials by a 17-year-pld juvenile bus monitor. The juvenile made a written statement to school officials in which she described an incident between her and the bus driver, identified as William Dale Blankenship, 58, of Prestonsburg, that occurred at approximately 6:15 a.m. on March 5, 2020.

According to the victim’s statement, the two were alone on the bus when Blankenship parked the school bus in a church parking lot and turned off the lights. She told law enforcement Blankenship began telling her about a sexual encounter between two students on his bus that he had to put a stop to, then he got up from his seat and walked back to her seat, telling her to lean back so he could demonstrate the act to her. Blankenship reportedly proceeded to put his hands on the wall and lean over the victim, demonstrating the act he had been describing. The victim was unable to get up or get away during the incident and was in fear of imminent physical injury, according to the criminal complaint.

Kentucky State Police charged Blankenship with one count of menacing, a Class B misdemeanor. He made an appearance in Magoffin County District Court on Monday, March 9, pleading guilty to the charge. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, probated for two years with lawful behavior. He is to have no contact with the victim.

Blankenship was suspended on Thursday, March 5, and is no longer an employee of Magoffin County Schools. 

“The number one thing I want people to know here is I can’t give you any immediate or definitive details on what happened because there was a minor involved, but any time when it comes to children, I want the people to know we don’t tolerate that. Our number one job here, besides educating the children, is to keep our children safe and I’ll do everything I can to try to maintain that.”
 

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