Charlotte school bus driver charged after going off-route, leaving students inside

A school bus driver accused of leaving Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students inside a bus with the engine running while making an “unauthorized stop” is facing nine counts of child abuse, court documents show.

Mark Sherwood Foster, 38, created and allowed a “substantial risk of physical injury upon” at least nine CMS students younger than 16 when he left them inside his bus — which had diverted from its regular route — on Sept. 19, according to court records.

One of the passengers was his own child, records indicate.

Police on Sept. 20 recalled arrest warrants issued that same day, records show, but on Oct. 14 Foster was ordered to appear in court. In court on Tuesday, a judge assigned a public defender to represent him.

He will next appear in the Mecklenburg County Courthouse on May 8 for a bench trial.

The district declined to comment on Foster’s charges or the incident because it’s a personnel matter, CMS spokeswoman Susan Vernon-Delvin said in an email.

This incident adds to a growing pool of safety concerns on CMS buses.

Early this year, a 5-year-old girl reported she was sexually assaulted on a bus. Last year, the district investigated two fights — one involving a parent with a gun — on buses holding middle school students.