Two South Carolina school workers are on unpaid leave after video surfaced of them allegedly assaulting a special needs elementary student on a school bus. The video clearly shows the 10-year-old child crying after two women slap, shove, and push his head down as they struggle to get him into a harness.
The two Darlington, SC county employees were arrested and charged with simple assault, after a school bus driver alerted school officials that a teacher assistant and a behavioral manager allegedly slapped a student. The special needs school bus is equipped with video surveillance.
The St. John Elementary student is a 10-year-old boy who is nonverbal. His mother released the video to local police and has given permission for her child’s face to be shown. (Other children’s faces have been blurred.)
The child appears to be cooperating with getting into his harness; at the beginning of the video you can see him lifting his arms to receive the harness. Police say there is no evidence that the student was in any way violent toward the women during or prior to the incident.
The Darlington Police Department identified the two people arrested as Rosanna Dudley (wearing white in the video) and Tomeka Danielle Self (wearing blue), both of Darlington.
The school system issued a release stating that “school officials were alerted by a bus driver that a teacher assistant and a behavioral manager working for the school district allegedly slapped an exceptional education student as they were placing him in his safety harness on the school bus.”
“As soon as the matter was brought to the attention of district administrators, the two individuals were placed on administrative leave without pay, pending the outcome of an investigation. The local police were notified and began an investigating. The district is cooperating fully with the police,” according to the statement. School officials also say they have pulled all video from the bus, and have found no other incidents.
Danny Watson, Chief of Police, told local news, “we reviewed the video and what we saw on the video disturbed us.”
“This behavior is unacceptable, especially coming from adults who have been entrusted with the care of our children,” said Dr. Rainey Knight, superintendent of the district, through the release. “We do not condone this behavior anywhere in our district for any child.”
If you’re keeping track, this is the fifth story like this we’ve seen in about six weeks. Just last week I interviewed New Jersey dad Stuart Chaifetz, who had slipped a digital audio recorder in his son’s pocket. The audio recording was six and a half hours of his autistic son being bullied by a classroom teacher and two aides.
In the weeks prior, a family in Alabama attached a digital recording device to their son’s wheelchair to discover that he was being verbally abused. In two separate cases, a school’s own videocamera captured children being abused: a Virginia girl was assaulted by an aide; a Massachusetts teen was restrained and subjected to repeated electric shocks.
In the state of New Jersey, Mr. Chaifetz is petitioning the state of New Jersey to develop laws to protect students from bullying by educators. The online petition has gained over 150,000 signatures in a week. In this latest case, however, the law is already clear: Ms. Dudley and Ms. Self are due to appear in court May 9 on charges of assault.
Warning: This video is very disturbing. Again, the boy’s mom has given permission for his face to be shown. The faces of the other children on the bus have been blurred.
(via: WPDE News)