BY KEN LITTLE
A Greene County Schools bus driver who allegedly used a county school bus Thursday night to chase down a man who repossessed his car has been disciplined three times in the past by the school system.
County school bus driver Leslie Calvin Henry, 44, was "formally terminated" from the job this morning, said Clark Justice, school system transportation director.
Henry, of 650 Ragon Hollow Road, Midway, is charged with a felony count of reckless endangerment in connection with the incident.
He had a first appearance Monday in General Sessions Court. A preliminary hearing was set for April 26, court officials said.
Henry has been employed at Greene County Schools as a bus driver on-and-off since 1996, Dr. Vicki Kirk, Greene County director of schools, said Monday in an interview with The Greeneville Sun.
He has worked steadily as a school bus driver since his last rehire date in August 2008.
During his bus-driving career with the school system, Henry was disciplined last year, in 2010 and in 1998, according to Kirk.
Last November, Henry was suspended for three days for verbal "disrespect of students," she said.
In 2010, he received a three-day suspension for "physically putting a child back in his seat," she said.
In 1998, Henry received a letter of reprimand after the school system's central office received a report that he crossed a railroad track while a train was on the tracks, Kirk said.
Henry transported Mosheim Elementary School students on his regular route. He drove Bus 77.
The route he allegedly took Thursday night has nothing to do with the school system.
About 10:10 p.m. Thursday, sheriff's deputies were notified by a representative of T&T Auto Sales about the repossession of a 2003 Saturn at the Ragon Hollow Road address.
"Subjects from that residence got into a Greene County school bus and [are] now chasing them down the roadway," deputies said repo man Paul Gray told them.
Henry allegedly drove Bus 77, which was parked at his house, in pursuit of the man who repossessed the car.
Gray told deputies that speeds got up to 35 to 40 mph "on the narrow side roads and continued to West Andrew Johnson Highway," the report said.
He told deputies the bus driver "continued chasing him on West Andrew Johnson Highway at speeds of 50 to 60 mph," the report said.
During the chase, the bus "was driving very close to his vehicle," the report said.
Gray pulled into the parking lot of Beamer's Carpet, at 4185 W. Andrew Johnson Hwy.
"The defendant got out of the bus very angry, and that's when police arrived," the report said.
Henry was accompanied on the bus by his wife and 10-year-old son, the report said. Their presence led to the reckless endangerment charge.
Henry has posted $10,000 bond.
KIRK: RECORD 'UNUSUAL'
Justice said he was told by Henry that he thought his car was being stolen, and he couldn't get his other vehicle started, so he took the bus.
"No reason would justify what he did," Justice said. "He should have called the sheriff's department."
Kirk was asked if Henry's spotted record is unusual among the 93 drivers, aides and permanent substitutes working for the school system.
"Yes. The vast majority of our bus drivers are respectful, responsible, hard-working individuals," she said. "Every once in a while you have an individual who exercises poor judgment, and I think that's what it was."
Background checks are done on all potential bus drivers, Kirk said. In addition to criminal record checks, all bus drivers must undergo drug screening and submit to periodic random drug-testing.
Psychological testing is not part of the screening process.
Employees with a history of policy violations are eventually weeded out by the school system, Kirk said. "If we have one thing after another, I'll take care of it," she added.
It's not unusual for drivers to park the buses at their house. Justice said the practice is a long-time policy in the school district.
"It's about saving fuel and mileage," Kirk said.
But, she added, "There's a definite understanding these buses are to be used for school business."