A former school bus driver has been charged with two misdemeanors for allegedly hitting and yelling at an unruly kindergartner on a St. Paul school bus last spring.

Richard J. Hilber of St. Paul is accused of grabbing the 6-year-old boy out of the stairwell in the front of the bus, where he had run while the bus was moving, and hitting him twice on the seat of his pants while yelling at him to return to his seat.

Hilber, 62, is charged in Ramsey County District Court with fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct in connection with the April 11 incident. Both are punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

"What? That's absurd!" Hilber said Thursday evening when he learned of the charges from a reporter, adding that he wanted his day in court.

He was subsequently fired by the bus company for allegedly breaking the school district's rules against corporal punishment, he said.

According to the complaint, school staff members called police after the child -- identified only by the initials N.Z.T.P. -- told them that he'd been hit by the bus driver.

The boy told an officer that he had been running on the bus, not following directions, and the driver had told him to sit down. When he didn't listen, the boy said, the driver hit him, scaring him.

Hilber told police that the boy was creating an unsafe situation by being in the aisle and not responding to commands to sit down.

When the driver exited Interstate 94 onto Dale Street, the boy crossed the white safety line at the front of the bus and went into the stairwell area. Hilber told police that he grabbed the boy and "used an open hand to swat" him "twice on the seat of his pants."