CMS bus driver fired after stunt

A school bus driver has been fired and the staff of a morning radio show will be disciplined following an incident in which a stunt reporter for WIBT-FM (“The Beat,” 96.1) climbed aboard a school bus as a prank.

Shaniece Merchant, who has been a driver for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for about a year, said she was terminated by the school system Tuesday.

She was driving a bus to Southwest Middle School on Monday morning, the first day of school, when Jase “Cubby” Squires, 26, boarded with students. He was talking on a cell phone to his studio counterparts at the “A.M. Mayhem” show – hosted by “Brotha” Fred, David L. and Jacinda Garabito.

At first, the radio team was laughing about how Squires managed to get aboard, then began questioning whether bus security was effective.

Merchant said Wednesday that she didn't get a good look at Squires, who is 5-foot-7 and about 290 pounds. “To me, he was just another student,” she said.

He got off at the next stop, explaining he was on the wrong bus. He was later charged with causing a disturbance on a school bus.

Squires, who joined “The Beat” in January, remains a member of the morning team and will return to the air Tuesday, said Morgan Bohannon, regional vice president for Clear Channel's cluster of Charlotte radio stations. “It was a morning show bit gone wrong,” he said.

WIBT's morning show crew “as a whole is being disciplined for their actions, and that's an internal matter,” he said.

Schools superintendent Peter Gorman said drivers have been reminded that they should not let non-students on a bus. If anyone tries, they are supposed to call their supervisor, who will alert CMS law enforcement.

He criticized the station for doing the stunt in the first place, then “lauding themselves for community service – I think that is inappropriate.”

He repeated his admonition that parents have a responsibility to protect their own children and others, but says CMS was also at fault: “Our driver shouldn't have let that person on the bus. We bear responsibility for that.”

At Wednesday's weekly news conference, Gorman said the driver was still suspended with pay and that it would be his decision whether to fire her. But after the Observer asked about Merchant's account, a CMS spokeswoman said that she had been terminated and Gorman did not know.