AMHERST, Ohio (WJW) — Jackie Miller said she regrets how she spoke to the kids on her school bus.
“I’m sick of all of this. I’m done with it. I’m gonna start kicking some serious” Miller can be heard shouting at a group of whom she called habitual misbehavers in a March 28 video that went viral and has since gotten millions of views.
“Do you hear me? My foot’s gonna be so far up your [expletive] it’s gonna be dangle out your nose.”
Hours after her outburst, school administrators moved to put her on paid leave — but she quit instead.
But weeks after that expletive-laden tirade ignited a viral media frenzy, the 68-year-old Miller told FOX 8 News she won’t take those words back.
“These kids needed to hear this,” she said. “You can’t push people like this.”
Miller said she hopes the incident sets off a broader dialogue about how school bus drivers by and large are being mistreated by habitually rude and unruly students.
And since then, people across the globe have rushed to her defense.
“You’re my hero!” say passersby in the store, Miller said. A GoFundMe created by one of her supporters has raised more than $120,000 as of mid-April. She’s been offered a summer vacation at an oceanside New England cabin. She interviewed with Fox News’ Jesse Watters.
Her rough words are now even on T-shirts made by a Vermilion screenprinter, which have been shipped worldwide, raising tens of thousands of dollars for the now out-of-work driver.
Miller, a former over-the-road trucker, was a school bus driver for more about 14 years, and had been driving for Amherst the last two-and-a-half.
Miller took the job after her last busing company — for which she drove developmentally disabled adults in Brook Park to and from workshops — shuttered during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
But some of the kids on her Amherst route were “no innocent little angels,” as she pointedly reminded one of them in the March 28 video. She claims students were spraying perfume — which had previously set off her asthma while driving — letting cell phones ring and shouting inappropriate remarks.
Miller snapped and, unbeknownst to her, one student started recording.
“This had been an ongoing problem all year long. These kids had gotten even worse from the year before,” Miller said. “As I have found out later … this was a complete setup by a group of kids trying to get me fired.”
One of them was smirking as she ranted, as if to say, “Gotcha,” she said.
The video, originally posted to TikTok, has been played more than 4.7 million times.
That night, district Superintendent Mike Molnar called Miller to say administrators were reviewing the video — at that point, she didn’t know she had been recorded — and that she’d be put on paid administrative leave in the meantime.
“I thought for sure they’re going to hold me up as some sort of example and throw me to the wolves,” Miller said. “I heard it and I resigned immediately. Not just because of [Molnar]. It was the right thing to do.”
A letter sent to district parents the following day read: “The actions of the bus driver do not represent the values and standards we uphold as a district and do not reflect our commitment to providing a safe, caring and compassionate educational environment.”
After Miller quit her job, her supporters stepped up, starting a GoFundMe that has raised more than $122,000 — “to help her pay for some time off and for all the years of loyal dedicated service,” said organizer Jeff Grob.
“We applaud her for tolerating as much as she has and are on her team!”
One donation came from as far as Germany, Miller said.
Miller’s phrasing even made its way onto T-shirts made by Mistakes on the Lake Apparel of Vermilion.
The apparel shop’s owner Jacqui Adkins said she first saw the video on March 31, and requests were pouring in for its own T-shirt design. Internet denizens helped Adkins track down Miller, and they met up at her shop.
“How did you see the video?” Miller asked her innocently. She doesn’t use social media and was embarrassed to learn she had gone viral, Adkins said.
Of each $25 sale, $5 goes to Miller. With more than 7,000 shirts sold and shipped to all 50 states and six countries, those proceeds come to more than $35,000, said Adkins.
Sales exploded after Miller appeared on Fox News’ Jesse Watters Primetime, which broadcast the Vermilion shop’s site.
“Her computer was about ready to crash. Thousands of orders were coming in … I’m gonna be immortalized by these horrible words on this T-shirt,” Miller laughed.
Even the mother of one of the bus riders who stoked Miller’s fury bought one, said Adkins.
“I was not expecting this at all. I just thought it was funny,” said Adkins, whose business grew from a Facebook meme page by the same name.
Miller said the vast majority of the students she drove “were great kids.” Some of them have even contacted her since she quit to tell her she’s missed, and Miller said she plans on staying in contact with some of them.
But the antagonistic ones take an emotional toll, and she said she hopes her viral incident will get people talking about that.
“I’m praying that this is a dialogue that doesn’t stop here and it just keeps going,” Miller said. “Parents: Teach your kids there are consequences to everything that you do.”
Miller recounted stories of school bus drivers who have been physically attacked or injured by kids.
“This is nationwide. This isn’t just in Amherst.”
Superintendent Molnar in an email to FOX 8 News said “appropriate consequences” were doled out on the “students who misbehaved.” Molnar said the district has a referral process for kids who act up on school buses.
“Like all school districts, we have a few students who misbehave on the bus, in the classroom, and on the playground but the vast majority of our students are well-behaved, caring and amazing,” Molnar wrote. “Amherst is a wonderful community with great students and invested parents.”
Miller said she’s looking forward to going into “grandma obscurity” and retiring, as her retiree husband — also a former trucker — has been “pestering” her to do. Just a few months ago, they moved into a new “beautiful little house” in Lorain, she said.
She’s pouring the GoFundMe and T-shirt proceeds into the retirement fund, and is thinking about traveling.
As for the students who acted out on her bus, she said she deeply regrets her choice of language that day.
“But I won’t retract anything,” she said. “You can’t ruin people’s lives like this and think you’re going to walk away like this.
“You’ve got to stop.”
Miller said she could see the potential in each of them, but worries it’s being overshadowed by how they choose to express themselves.
“You have to give these kids a moral code so they can grow into responsible adults,” she said. “This has to change so we don’t lose another entire generation of kids.
“This is exactly where this is going.”