Florida school bus attendant caught on video hitting special needs student
POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A 65-year-old Florida school bus attendant was caught on camera striking a student passenger with special needs, according to WFLA-TV.
Brenda Nelson, of Polk City, is shown walking by the child and hitting her on the head with an open hand.
The student attends the Doris Sanders Learning Center in Lakeland, Fla., according to WFLA.
After hitting the student, Nelson is heard saying “I’m gonna slap that tongue out your mouth when I get up there.”
Later in the video, she is seen walking behind the victim’s seat, grabbing her by the hair, and shaking her head back and forth. The child can be heard squealing in pain.
Police say Nelson told the bus driver to disregard the regular bus route and drop the victim off first. She sat beside the victim for the remainder of the ride, and appeared to push the child down into the seat to further “limit her mobility,” a police detective told WFLA.
Nelson allegedly told police the child was misbehaving, hitting the window and trying to leave her seat. But police investigators told WFLA the victim was secured by a harness and did not appear to be acting in a disruptive manner.
Nelson later told police that she did not remember hitting the child, but later said, “I guess I done it…I must have just lost it.”
A Hillsborough County Public Schools spokesperson told WFLA that Nelson was removed from the classroom while school administration investigates the incident.
Nelson was taken into custody and charged with child abuse.
She was booked into the Polk County Jail but has since been released after posting bond, according to WFLA.
On behalf of the Polk County School Board, Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd released this statement following the incident:
“Our children are the single most precious thing on this earth. At Polk County Public Schools, our most important job is to protect them, to provide them with a safe environment in which they can grow, learn and thrive. This employee squandered the trust of the children and families in her care. She does not embody the values of Polk County Public Schools, and I will not tolerate it. I have instructed my HR staff to immediately begin the process of termination.”
Nelson has worked as a bus attendant since 1983, according to WFLA. Her annual salary is approximately $18,400. There is no past disciplinary action in her personnel file, according to police.