Special Needs Transportation

School Bus Driver Found Not Guilty of Hitting Special-Needs Student

Posted on June 3, 2016

SEATAC, Wash. — A former state judge who became a school bus driver and was accused of slapping a special-needs student has been cleared of assault charges, KOMO News reports.

A jury found Jeannette Burrage not guilty of assaulting a 6-year-old boy with autism in 2015, according to the news source. Video surveillance footage from the bus showed Burrage involved in a scuffle with the boy, but a jury couldn’t prove that she intentionally hit him, and called the incident a “reflexive action," KOMO News reports. Burrage said that she didn’t remember the slap happening.

As previously reported, the boy became agitated after unexpectedly being put on a school bus instead of the van he routinely rides. The bus monitor asked Burrage for help because his behavior was escalating.

Burrage said in a statement that she believes a series of errors led to the incident, among those a school bus driver shortage throughout the district and a lack of communication about the boy’s needs, according to the news source. Burrage added that she was fired from her job as a bus driver in 2015, but is appealing the termination. Although an arbitrator may decide in August whether she should get her job back, she said she is not sure she would return.

Catherine Carbone Rogers, a spokeswoman for Highline Public Schools, said in a statement obtained by KOMO News that “There is never any circumstance under which it is acceptable for a Highline staff member to strike a child.”

Related Topics: autism, behavior management, Washington

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