Charges may be dropped against deserting driver

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

PINEVILLE, Mo. -- Prosecutors have tentatively agreed to drop charges against a school bus driver accused of deserting students on a rural southwest Missouri road after one of them hit her in the head with a piece of Play-Doh.

Marian Ruth Shoemaker, 45, of Pineville will have 23 misdemeanor charges dismissed if she stays out of trouble for the next 90 days, McDonald County Prosecutor Steve Geeding said.

"The whole reason to bring charges against Mrs. Shoemaker was to make her aware of the inappropriateness of her actions," Geeding said. "I think simply going through the process has done that."

Shoemaker was fired after the April 26 incident in which several children were kicked off the bus for apparently misbehaving. She was charged with 20 counts of endangering the welfare of a child, two counts of false imprisonment, and one count of careless and imprudent driving.

The dismissal of charges against her could make Shoemaker eligible to be reinstated in her former job with the McDonald County school district, but assistant superintendent Dick Davis wouldn't speculate on what the school board might do if Shoemaker reapplied.

Linda Belt, a parent of a student at Anderson Elementary School near Pineville, said she agreed with prosecutors' decision.

"I understand that things got out of hand on the bus and she reacted incorrectly to what happened," Belt said. "But should she go to jail? Probably not."

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