WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A mother here has filed a lawsuit against a school district, alleging that an aide who worked there was not properly trained to work with special-needs students and abused her son, Orlando Sentinel reports.
School bus video shows that in a 2015 incident, a boy with autism was riding on the bus when the aide, Christopher Barker, grabbed the back of his neck and verbally taunted him, according to the lawsuit. When the boy cried out in pain, Barker allegedly told him, “I can make it hurt worse than this.” According to the court filing, Barker also pushed his weight onto the student when he later began yelling, and punched him in the back and squeezed him, Orlando Sentinel reports. Barker allegedly told the boy to “take it like a man” and “every time you get on the bus, every time you misbehave, that’s what you’re gonna get.” The lawsuit also alleges that the bus driver continued to drive during the incident.
The School District of Palm Beach County investigated the incident and recommended terminating Barker’s employment, but Barker resigned, according to the newspaper. At the time of the incident, Barker told the Sun Sentinel that he did grab the student, but only to keep him in his seat. According to the court filing, when police questioned Barker, he said he didn’t receive required training from the district.
The district told the newspaper that it takes allegations of child abuse by employees seriously, and that the incident highlights the importance of having video on its school buses.
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