LOVELL — A 74-year-old MSAD 72 bus driver is still on the job a week after she was criminally charged following an altercation with the parent of a student.

Some parents and community members, however, say the district should have her parked.

Shirley Danforth of Stoneham was continuing to drive the school bus this week pending a court hearing in December where she will answer charges of assault and driving to endanger that were filed on Sept. 29.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, when Danforth was confronted by Emily Poitras, the parent of a 13-year-old who had been riding on Danforth’s bus.

“The confrontation was a result of the bus driver confronting students on the bus over cellphone usage while being transported on the bus. The student sent messages to her mother who in turn confronted the driver at the discharge stop,” according to an Oxford County Sheriff’s Office news release.

The mother and driver exchanged words, police said, and as the driver began to pull the bus way, the open doors struck the mother, who had been standing between them.


No serious injuries were reported, but deputies began investigating the incident and interviewed witnesses and school officials.

This week, the MSAD 72 community — and others — had a mixed reaction to news that Danforth is still driving after the altercation.

“If I was a taxpayer in Lovell and I had kids in school,” wrote one woman on Facebook, “I would be livid that this driver is still employed by the district!”

“The parent should have never brought it to the bus driver,” wrote another. “The parent should have known better and brought it to the school principal. The bus driver needed to protect the other children and didn’t know if that parent was a danger to the others.”

One man pointed out that, with a shortage of bus drivers vexing almost all school districts, it makes sense that Danforth would continue driving until the matter is settled in court.

“Last I heard,” he wrote, “Maine has a severe shortage of bus drivers so it makes sense why she didn’t lose her job. I haven’t heard of any parents lining up to drive all these hellions around. Next thing you know you’ll be livid that there’s no bus transportation for the kids because there’s no drivers.”


Various threads on social media go this way: some support Danforth and condemn the mother who instigated the incident, others believe Danforth should have been taken off the job immediately.

Some are taking a wait and see position.

“Two sides to every story,” wrote one woman. “Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, not public opinion.”

MSAD 72 officials have declined to comment on the terms of Danforth’s employment, although they did confirm that Danforth is still working and that their end of the investigation has concluded. Her court date is set for Dec. 13.

The matter was exacerbated later last week when television news channels began airing footage from various cameras that captured part of the exchange between Danforth and the parent.

In the footage, the bus driver is heard screaming, “Don’t lie to me! Don’t lie!” at an 8th grade student she accused of using her cell phone against school rules.


“Excuse me, you don’t yell at kids like that,” Poitras, standing outside the bus at the doors, tells the driver.

“I yell any way I want!” the driver responds. “Do not tell me how to run my bus.”

“Really?” the parent shoots back. “I’m recording you, you psycho.”

At that point, the bus begins to move and Poitras has to run to get out of the way.

Poitras told WGME 13 last week that she believes Danforth should be fired.

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