A Bus Driver Tapes The Mouth Of A Girl With Special Needs: Authorities, Are You Looking Out For Our Kids?

A bus driver duct-taped the mouth of a girl with special needs: horrific, right? On various other occasions, according to a lawsuit, driver Marjorie Jones also pulled the girl’s hair, slapped her, and shoved snow in her face. Angelina Kio, 7 at the time, took the school bus daily in Queensbury, New York. She is reportedly unable to speak and has cognitive impairment; the abuse triggered emotional outbursts, the suit claimed.

Here’s what’s also horrifying: This bus had a video camera. The alleged abuse could have been caught earlier on if authorities had properly monitored the surveillance.

Obviously, they didn’t.

This week, a judge sentenced Jones, 63, to three years of probation and 100 hours of community service. In court, Jones said “I am sorry for what I did. It was a playful thing.”

Awful. Mind-boggling. And extremely unnerving, if you have a kid with special needs.

Just this past week, I got a call that the same bus driver and aide who been transporting my son to school for the past several years will be driving him for his summer session, and I was extremely relieved. They are good, responsible people, even though we had an incident this year where I found out the aide had been strapping my son into his seat incorrectly, forcing his legs to cramp up so that he was limping when he got off the bus. And yet, I know that in the scheme of things, we are lucky to have them.

I’ve written here about the neglect of children with special needs on school buses, instances in which children were accidentally left on sweltering hot buses by their drivers. I’ve written sbout abuse of children in classrooms and the hot-sauce incident, and wondered whether video cameras might help.

So it is seriously troubling to read about an incident in which there was a video camera. And nobody seemed to have been paying attention to what it captured.

Video cameras are a good idea for buses that transport any kids, special needs on not, as it could help also ward off bullying and other kid-on-kid abuse. When I Googled around, it seemed like a growing number of school districts are installing them. In the Granite School District in Utah, for one, the board recently voted to install $58,000 worth of cameras in its bus fleet. This follows an incident last year when a teen with special needs fell out of the back of a bus traveling down a freeway.

More video cameras on buses is a good thing; their presence could keep both bus drivers and kids on their best behavior. In the end, though, they won’t be effective if the footage is not systemtically reviewed. School districts and bus companies need to get together and come up with firm plans for monitoring the monitors. Laws should hold them responsible for that.

I hope it doesn’t take a serious tragedy for increased enforcement. It’s tragic enough that any children, particularly more defenseless ones, are being abused by the very people charged with being responsible for their safety.

 

From my other blog: 

Those moments as a special needs mom when you feel helpless

 

Image of girl waiting for school bus via Shutterstock

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  1. by Kathryn

    On July 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I heard about this as I live only 30 minutes away from Queensbury.Just horrible truley horrible
    In my school district the head of the bus garage cheaks ALL bus security cameras 2x a day (after the morning run and the afternoon run) and they cheak the cameras on late buses too.This led to evidence in a cyberbully incident in which i was the victem and has also leaned in my case witha stuborn late bus driver who let me off a mile from my house in the cold rain even though there was a closer stop on the route.

  2. by Penni

    On July 14, 2012 at 10:33 am

    I have gone from being excited over the prospect of my six year old son (Down Syndrome and Autism, non/pre verbal) riding the bus next year to absolutely terrified.

  3. by Rachel

    On July 14, 2012 at 11:04 am

    All this – no real outcry and an able bodied woman abused verbally by some kids when it didn’t appear to me that she was doing her job very well, if at all, gets tons and tons of press and over 1/2 million dollars in donations for her troubles! WTH!?

  4. by Hannah

    On July 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I’m always shocked when people in authority do horrific things like this to children with special needs and no one steps in to help. Not one child came home and told their mom that the bus driver put duct tape across the mouth of a schoolmate? Parents with special needs are going to have to scream for a matron to protect their kids, especially if no one is watching the tapes. Whatever happened to community?

  5. by Nicole

    On July 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    It’s stories like this that keep me from letting my son ride the bus to school. I can’t gamble that he’ll get one of the good ones, so I pick him up and drop him off each day. He’s mostly non-verbal, so he wouldn’t be able to tell me if something happened. I have enough anxiety about him being at school without me, and what could happen to him there, I can’t add the bus to the mix too. Maybe when he’s older and can communicate if something is happening, but right now I feel like his only protector, so I rarely trust anyone to care for him without me being present. It’s unfortunate that our children can so easily fall victim to these abuses, and that we as parents to them have to also be extra-super-hyper vigilant about it, on top of everything else we already have to do and worry about.

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