A Mississippi judge will review video from a school bus route to determine if the driver’s actions against a student with disabilities constitutes heavier punishment after the child’s grandfather appealed to the court, reports the Sun Herald.
The incident occurred during the 2014-2015 school year. On the video, the bus driver is heard threatening to choke and kill the girl if she doesn’t sit down and be quiet. The girl, who was 14 at the time, was born with 1p36 depletion syndrome, a chromosome disorder that can result in temper tantrums, biting and other behavioral problems.
On the video, the driver starts yelling at the girl for behavior that is not clear in the video, and begins taunting her. The girl becomes agitated, and the driver is heard repeatedly yelling at the girl and threatening her. A special education teacher also on the bus also yells at the girl and sits down next to her, sticks her hand in the girl’s mouth in an attempt to quite her, and pushes her against the window. At a stop, the driver then walks to the girl’s seat and sits on top of her.
The bus driver was prepared to plead no contest to misdemeanor charges of simple assault and contributing to the delinquency, neglect or abuse of a child. The sentencing recommendation was a fine of $2,000 and a suspended jail sentence.
But Thomas Pearce, the student’s grandfather, asked the judge why the charges against the driver and the special education teacher, who earlier this year pleaded no contest and was fined $3,000 and was given a suspended sentence, are only misdemeanors.
“I can assure you this. When you see that tape you’re going to be just as mad as everybody else was,” Pearce told the judge during Monday’s hearing.
The judge said he’d review the video before accepting the prosecution’s plea deal, or deciding further charges are necessary, and changed its policies to make sure incidents like this one don’t go unreported.
Jackson County School District fired both the driver and teacher.