Tampa, FL – A Florida school district has released shocking footage of what appears to be a bus driver kicking an autistic student down the bus’s stairs onto the ground.
Bus driver Stephanie Wilkerson, 42, is seen standing behind an autistic 8-year-old girl as she hesitates on the steps in video released Wednesday by Hillsborough County schools. Law enforcement authorities say that the student slapped Wilkerson, who then appears to kick the student in the back, causing her to fall to the ground outside.
The incident reportedly took place on September 28, 2012.
Tampa police said that the bus driver’s actions caused the girl to break her ankle. Wilkerson is currently facing aggravated child abuse charges, according to WFLA.
“If a bus driver or teacher or anyone makes contact with a student that results in injury, we take that very, very seriously,” a spokesman for Hillsborough County school district said of the incident. “You are the adult. You have to show restraint. You are held to a very high standard. Pushing a student where they fall of the bus and injure themselves — it is obviously beyond anything they are allowed to do.”
The girl’s parents are suing the Hillsborough County school district. Wilkerson has not spoken to the media about the incident, and it is unclear whether she has gotten an attorney.
The district has seen two special needs students die since the September incident, reports NBC News.
Jenny Caballero, a 10-year-old with Down Syndrome, drowned in a nearby pond last October after she wandered away from her middle school gym class. In November, 7-year-old Isabella Herrera, whose neuromuscular disorder left her confined to a wheelchair, stopped breathing on a bus ride. Though an aide noticed Herrera in distress, officials neglected to stop the bus or call 911.
Wilkerson has been fired since the incident.
Here’s a video report on the story. The clip of bus driver Stephanie Wilkerson kicking the child off the bus is included: