Several Tampa Bay media outlets have posted a video, released this week
by the Pasco County School District, which shows a school aide allegedly
slapping a 10-year-old autistic boy aboard a school bus.
A school district official told the
Tampa Bay Times that the June 3 incident was "so horrendous" that the district
opted to release the video to the media.
The video shows the school aide, described by
Bay News 9 as being a 6-foot-1, 250-pound man, walking to the back of the bus and
talking to the child before appearing to strike the child several times.
The boy had apparently been using foul language prior to the incident.
The child, strapped into harness seat, can be heard saying, "Ow."
The slaps are loud enough to be heard on the video, the news outlets state.
Additionally, the media reports that the aide can heard saying, "Say
it one more time." He can also be heard asking the child, "You
A school district official described the scene to the Tampa Bay Times as
being "utterly disgusting."
Bay News 9 reports that the Pasco County Sheriff's Office arrested
the aide on June 6 and charged him with two counts of child abuse. He
has been suspended from his job.
Mother Says She Had Suspicions about School Aide
The child's mother learned of the slapping incident from the parent
of another child. She took immediate action and called the school district.
She asked for a review of video footage captured by three cameras aboard the bus.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that the aide had been working for Pasco County
Schools since 1998. The mother told the newspaper that she had filed complaints
against him in the past, but the complaints did not involve hitting.
According to the newspaper, the mother questioned whether the June 3 incident
could have been avoided if the school district "had taken a closer
look at the past complaints."
"How many times and how many mothers had to complain before something
was done?" the woman said to the newspaper.
A school district spokesperson told the Tampa Bay Times that the driver
of the school bus is under review as well.
Transportation of Special Needs Students Remains Ongoing Issue
The Maher Law Firm focuses on protecting the rights of
special needs students in Florida schools. Unfortunately, we have seen the transportation of
"exceptional student education" (ESE) children being an issue
that arises all too often.
Our firm recently assisted a Hillsborough County family in resolving a
claim that arose from the death of their child, an ESE student, aboard
a school bus in January of 2012. Please see the
statement provided by our law firm concerning this tragic incident.
Recently, our firm's blog focused specifically on the role of
student aides in the abuse and neglect of special needs children in our schools.
Given our firm's focus in this area of the law, we will continue to
closely monitor the Pasco County incident.