Video: School Bus Driver Drags 8-Year-Old Student Wth Autism Down Aisle

A Vacaville, California, bus driver seen taunting and physically dragging an 8-year-old girl with autism on surveillance footage has sparked a lawsuit. A video captured the February incident escalating from discipline to violence.

The video shows Vacaville Unified School District bus driver Kim Klopson, 64, reprimanding the girl for blocking the aisle before calling the girl a “baby” and shoving her into a seat several times.  A teacher’s aide can be seen coming to get the girl from the bus, which was dropping off special needs students, but the driver closes the doors and begins to get physical after the aide walks away.

Four minutes of footage showed the driver alone with the girl. Klopson held the child's backpack, forcing the hysterically crying girl to remain on the bus. The video showed her yanking the child up and down on the seat and in the bus aisle before eventually dragging her off the bus entirely. Klopson faces a criminal child abuse charge for the manhandling scene.

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Klopson was fired after the video was sent to school district administrators by the Liberty Law Office representing the child’s family. Attorney Micha Star Liberty said it was “bone-chilling” to see how someone trusted with children’s safety was treating students with autism.

School district officials at a public meeting Thursday said they contacted each family with a student on one of the district’s buses at the time of the incident. Superintendent Jane Shamieh told The Reporter on Friday that Klopson had received "hundreds of hours" of professional training in addition to all the state certification required for working with special needs students, KOVR-TV reported.

“We will continue to provide trainings, professional development and support for all of our employees serving students,” the school district told The Reporter. “Please know that we take this matter very seriously and will continue to be forthcoming and collaborative with our families.”

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 12 A Vacaville, California, bus driver was seen taunting and physically dragging an 8-year-old girl with autism on surveillance footage that sparked a lawsuit. Vacaville Unified School District bus surveillance

“Every child should feel understood, safe and happy at school and at home,” VUSD Superintendent Jane Shamieh added Friday. 

In a previous statement through the Vacaville Police Department's Facebook page, Shamieh said, “There are no words to explain why anyone would mistreat a child in that way. No child should ever experience something like that, especially at school. We immediately initiated police involvement and have been in full support of the investigation.”

Klopson was booked into Solano County Jail in February, where she pleaded not guilty to the felony child abuse charge and was released on bail. The family’s attorney said the debate over Klopson’s level of training is irrelevant to their lawsuit because “under the law, the school district is responsible for her abusive behavior.”

Liberty told The Reporter that the law firm released the video to “get the word out” amid fears this was not an isolated behavior issue from Klopson.

“We have reason to believe there are other victims,” Liberty said. “We’re doing our best to gather information to protect this victim and make sure this doesn’t happen again.” Klopson’s defense attorney, Curtis Boyd, told The Reporter that his client was aware the video was released and that she will be in court on July 11.

The Vacaville Unified School District said they are holding to their previously issued statements and the Thursday public meeting until the child abuse case is heard and the ongoing legal issues are resolved. Liberty Law Firm did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for a comment on the case.

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