- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 21, 2002

A Prince George's County school bus driver who "felt threatened" by a disabled mother and her 8-pound puppy left a busload of special-needs children at a police station twice last week while he sought a restraining order against the woman.
Bus driver Lawrence Ware complained that Linda Stiggers Yancy of Riverdale Park stepped onto the special-needs bus to inquire about an incident in which her 14-year-old son, Gregory, had been bullied by another student on the bus.
Mrs. Yancy, who has spinal problems and walks with the assistance of a cane, was holding her papillon puppy, Joey, in her arms.
The protective order, filed Sept. 13, accused Mrs. Yancy of harassment, "acts which placed [Mr. Ware] in fear of imminent serious bodily harm," and "assault by coming on the school bus and threatened by dog."
In a hearing yesterday in Prince George's County District Court, Judge Joel Warshtil dismissed the restraining order.
Testifying in the hearing, Mrs. Yancy and Mr. Ware agreed on the details of their encounter on September 11.
Both said Mrs. Yancy had stood on the steps of the bus with her puppy and asked Mr. Ware about the bullying incident. He replied that the matter had been resolved. She said "fine" and told him to "have a blessed day." He told her to do the same and drove off to Kennedy Krieger High School in Baltimore, where the special-needs students are taught.
And the dog didn't even bark.
The next morning, Mrs. Yancy did not walk Gregory to the bus stop, but that afternoon, the bus arrived at the Yancy home an hour late. Her son ran into the house as she was stepping outside and told her, "Mom, go back inside. You are in enough trouble."
With about 10 children on board the bus, Mr. Ware had stopped at the Bladensburg police station to get a restraining order against Mrs. Yancy, he said yesterday in court. Bladensburg police advised him to deal with the Riverdale Park police, who did not want to get involved, he said.
"I felt threatened and needed to do something immediately," Mr. Ware said.
"I didn't want her coming on the bus and frightening the children again. I just wanted to get a police officer over and shake her up. You know, drivers get beat up all the time. We never know what is on someone's mind."
The next day, Sept. 13, Gregory again was an hour late getting home.
Mr. Ware had stopped again at Riverdale Park police headquarters, and this time officers told him to go to the Prince George's County police station in Hyattsville to get a restraining order, which he did.
"I was just floored that he would leave a group of special-needs kids sitting at a police station for almost an hour," Mrs. Yancy said yesterday in court.
"And for what, to get a protective order against a woman who can barely walk holding a small dog? And when has it become a problem for a parent to check on her child on a school bus?"
Mr. Ware said the school system has taken no disciplinary action against him.
Prince George's County schools transportation officials were unavailable for comment yesterday.
During the hearing, Mr. Ware complained of a pattern of harassment by Mrs. Yancy, whom he first met Sept. 3. He complained about a 10-page memo she sent to his supervisors detailing his failure to get Gregory to school on time and to help him cross the street and about the bullying incident.
"How do you feel about me?" he asked Mrs. Yancy in cross-examination. "How can you find this many words to say that much about me?"
Because the two parties could not work out an agreement, the matter escalated into a bench trial.
The judge found in favor of Mrs. Yancy because he said Mr. Ware could not meet the burden of proof required for a finding in his favor.
Mr. Ware lamented the decision.
"All I wanted to do today is take a stand," he said after the hearing. "She thinks this is over, but it isn't. She thinks I don't know what defamation of character means."


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