Polk school bus driver on paid leave after ‘hell’ accusations

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County School bus driver is on paid administrative leave, pending an investigation into allegations she told a 7-year old boy his moms are going to hell for their same-sex relationship.

Bus driver Violeta Jacobo was placed on paid administrative leave on Monday. The move comes just after a district spokesperson told News Channel 8, “The School District’s review of this incident has been completed. Violeta Jacobo remains an active bus driver. She has been counseled by her supervisor on how to properly interact with students, including not to discuss or promote religious matters with students.”

Spokesperson Jason Geary also emailed a letter he said would be added to Jacobo’s file reflecting this conversation.

RELATED: V Jacobo signed letter March 8, 2017

The lack of disciplinary action caused community members to speak out in support of the family.

Nathaly Encarnacion planned to present a Change.org petition Tuesday at the 5 p.m. School Board meeting, asking for disciplinary action, and for the district to offer counseling to her son. As of Tuesday, the petition had more than 200 signatures.

“I think it’s ridiculous. I called them. I left them a bunch of messages with different secretaries. They never called me back,” Encarnacion told News Channel 8.

On Tuesday morning, the school offered the following statement:

“We are aware of the serious allegations against bus driver Violeta Jacobo, and currently an internal investigation is taking place.

It has never been the policy of the Polk County School District for employees to speak with students about religious matters. We are deeply concerned that one of our employees has been accused of such behavior. This employee has been placed on paid administrative leave while we conduct our internal investigation.

As part of this inquiry, we will be speaking with the student’s mother. Counseling services are available for the student upon the family’s request.

We will not be providing interviews or further comments at this time due to the pending nature of our internal investigation.”

This comes after News Channel 8 broke the story last week.

Nathaly Encarnacion reached out for help, claiming the bus driver told her 7-year-old son his two mommies would go to hell for their same-sex relationship.

Back in February, her son missed his bus from Alta Vista Elementary School, so a different bus driver took him home.

“He mentioned [to the bus driver] he was hoping his two moms wouldn’t be upset that he was home so late,” Encarnacion said. “She said, ‘Whoa God doesn’t like that,’ then she went on and on telling him how he wouldn’t make it into heaven and there is a such thing as hell.”

Encarnacion claims the bus driver even sent him home with a Jehovah’s Witnesses card, and told him to have his mommies watch the video link on the card.

“Later that night, he explained why we should not be together anymore,” Encarnacion said. “He is absolutely questioning this now, something we have so smoothly transitioned into and never had any issues with.”

Encarnacion said she contacted the school board and never heard back. She also contacted DCF. She told News Channel 8 the agency looked into the incident, but closed the case when they did not find any neglect.

News Channel 8 reached out to the driver, Jacobo, but she refused to answer any questions, and instead referred us to the school’s transportation department.

“I looked up the code of conduct, and it specifically states that harassment or discrimination based on orientation, family circumstances, political views or financial or otherwise, among others, is strictly prohibited. So I feel like some action should be taken,” Dustin Shay with Polk Pride Florida said.

Shay told News Channel 8 incidents like this are the reason that Polk Pride Florida holds community events.

“I think as a community, we need to make sure we’re recognizing that not everybody is the same. Everybody comes from different families: single households, double mommies, double daddies, and it doesn’t need to be judged or discriminated against,” Shay said. “It’s not something that should be repeated. I think for it to not be repeated it’s going to have to be disciplined, or at least recognized.”

“It’s shocking and it’s infuriating to know that nobody is doing anything about it. Just the thought that she could do this to other kids.” Encarnacion said.

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