VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Parents are frustrated that their children were allowed to be exposed to an allegedly dangerous person after they learned of 31-year-old Michael Gunther’s arrest.
Gunther was arrested in early October after a student passed out at home and his mother discovered text messages between her son and Gunther about the bus driver getting students alcohol and nicotine products.
“One of the parents I represent went to Virginia Beach school administration on Sept. 6 to speak to an administrator, and at the time, she provided text messages as well between the bus driver and her son,” said attorney Diane Toscano.
Gunther was arrested 29 days after that incident. And during that time, he remained with the school system as a bus driver despite the school knowing about these text messages. Now, an attorney retained by those parents said it went further than just text messages.
“These children were given illegal substances while on the bus,” Toscano said.
Not only while riding the bus, but Toscano said they were also given these products when they would meet up with Gunther off school property. Gunther was charged with contribution to the delinquency of a minor, and later, with at least five counts of child pornography. More charges are pending.
What parents wonder now is “why would the school allow the bus driver to remain employed and continue to drive these bus routes and have direct contact with these children?”
Parents also wonder why Gunther wasn’t put on leave of some kind during the investigation, instead of continuing to have direct contact with their children. 10 On Your Side asked if anything illegal happened in that 29-day span after the school system knew about the situation.
“That’s what we’re looking into,” Toscano said. “We have some disturbing information. Whether or not it leads to the level of being illegal, we’re exploring and looking into everything.”
It’s important to note parents are not filing suit—right now—but they are exploring their legal options.
10 On Your Side reached out to Virginia Beach schools about this.
They sent out the same statement they did when Gunther was arrested, saying a parent did come to them Sept. 5 with text messages, and that they immediately notified a school resource officer, who took the matter to Virginia Beach police to investigate.