Stephanie Kane and her mother were having trouble with trucks driving up onto their sidewalk and cracking the cement.

Early Monday, Kane heard an engine noise outside and then a "thump," and looked out the window of her Port Richmond home to see if a truck had parked on their sidewalk again while making a delivery at the corner store.

Instead, what Kane saw wasn't a truck but a school bus, parked outside their house on Janney Street near Monmouth, and its driver was tossing kittens, one after the other, out the back door, said her mother, Terri Gerretz.

The three kittens, about eight to ten weeks old, were turned over to the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals where they were reported yesterday to have suffered no major injuries but were infested with fleas.

Humane investigator Greg Jordan said that the school-bus driver, identified as William Mitchell, of Clearfield Street near Frankford Avenue, was charged yesterday with three misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. More serious charges would have been issued if the animals had suffered major injury, Jordan said.

Philadelphia public schools were closed Monday for Yom Kippur, a spokesman said. However, Jeff Rollo, vice president of operations at Atlantic Express, for which Mitchell works, said that the company also drives routes for parochial and private schools. Mitchell was working Monday, he said.

Rollo said that an investigation was being conducted.

Mitchell could not be reached late yesterday.

Gerretz said that she ran outside after her daughter heard the first "thump," and asked "What are you doing?"

Gerretz said that the driver told her that somebody apparently had placed the cats inside his small, van-sized school bus after he made a drop-off at a school and went inside to do some paperwork.

"He said when he came out he was driving the bus and he hit a bump and heard kittens crying," Gerretz said.

"Even if he dropped them three feet, they're gonna get hurt," she said.