Special Needs Transportation

Charges Dropped Against Aide Accused of Abusing Special-Needs Students

Posted on January 7, 2019

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Charges against a school bus aide who was accused of abusing special-needs students were dropped based on a state law that allows corporal punishment in schools, WFTV reports.

Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies told the news source that an investigation into James Charles Brunson, 26, began on May 17 when the Department of Children and Families notified them of the allegations against him, after one of the students on his bus came home with a minor injury.

A news release from the Lake County Sheriff’s office stated that bus video from May 15 routes showed Brunson, who worked for Lake County Schools, grabbing students by their faces, twisting their heads and arms, pushing them against the wall of the bus, placing a shoe over one student's mouth, and stretching one boy's leg over his head, ClickOrlando.com reports. Deputies also told the news source that the video showed Brunson pulling on the harnesses of the seats. Brunson was arrested on 32 counts of child abuse on June 25.

However, those charges were dropped because the state’s attorney’s office said that Florida law allows parents and other adults to use corporal punishment, arguing that the four children involved in the incident were "kicking and punching other students,” and "screaming, hitting defendant," so "defendant's behavior arguably falls under the corporal punishment privilege given his role as a bus monitor," according to WFTV. The attorney’s office also said, the news source reports, that the aide’s conduct "does not rise to the level of criminal child abuse."

The school district told the news source that corporal punishment is not allowed in its classrooms or on its buses, that Brunson will never work for the district again, and that it is placing more emphasis on de-escalation and student management when training new bus monitors.

Related Topics: aide/monitor, driver training, Florida

Comments ( 1 )
  • Nancy

     | about 3 months ago

    This whole story blows my mind.

More Stories
Some school transportation departments have found that children’s rideshare services, such as HopSkipDrive, can offer flexible scheduling and more efficiency when serving students with special needs, and those who are homeless or in foster care.
Article

How Ridesharing Can Meet a Variety of Student Needs

Children’s rideshare services can offer scheduling flexibility, quick response time, and more efficient use of resources when serving homeless, foster care, and special-needs students. Factors to consider are budget and coordination between multiple parties.

Photo courtesy Frederick County (Md.) Public Schools
Article

Getting School Bus Drivers, Aides Involved in the IEP Process

While it may not be ideal for transportation staff to be involved in every step of the Individualized Education Program process, it is essential for them to communicate with parents and related service staff to acquire information that may directly impact a student’s safe travel to and from school.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!