A Seminole County school bus driver told FOX 35 exactly what happened, and why it appeared he was caught texting behind the wheel of a school bus.
Surveillance video has gotten a lot of parents upset, however, Robert Stancheski, the driver, said it's not exactly what it looks like on camera.
"I know it was wrong," Stancheski said. "But I was still trying to give her a heads up,"
Stancheski said he was not texting, but he was looking at his phone and turning on his voice to text function in order to contact the mother of a special needs child on his route.
"[The mother] of the special needs child I was going to go pick up, we had a conversation earlier," said Stancheski. "I just texted her real quick-- speech to text."
Stancheski said he was trying to give the parent a heads up that he was approaching the house. At the end of the surveillance video Fox35 obtained, you can hear Stancheski speak into the phone and wish the child's mother a Merry Christmas.
Stancheski has driven school and city buses for more than two decades. He's been a school bus driver in Seminole County for two years.
Still, district officials said Stancheski has been suspended without pay for the last three weeks for the incident in December, and he could get fired. Last April, Stancheski was suspended with pay after surveillance video reportedly showed him texting and then an accident occurring. Stancheski said his texting and the accident were not related, and added that he was also texting a parent of another special needs child in that case, as well.
"I had just blurted out a quick text," said Stancheski. "It wasn't seconds later. I had put the phone down. The phone had nothing to do with the guy making an illegal u-turn in front of me."
Although, students were not on the bus in either incident and he did not break a law, district leaders said Stancheski violated company policy.
"Under no circumstances are drivers to text while transporting kids or while driving a bus," said Ken Lewis, a spokesperson with Seminole County Schools Transportation. "Whether kids were on the bus or not you still are operating a vehicle, that can do considerable damage, to include serious injury our possibly death
District officials said Stancheski's bus route covered Winter Springs High School, Sterling Park Elementary and South Seminole Middle School.
Stancheski admits he should not have texted while he was driving.
"I could have did it in a much more responsible way, and given the chance, I would do that. I would take the much more responsible way, because it was foolish," Stancheski said.
Stancheski showed Fox35 several letters that he's received letters from parents on his route. The letters ask the district to reinstate Stancheski as a school bus driver.
The issue will be discussed at a board meeting next week.