Bus driver accused of kicking student

March 21, 2013 at 8:13 PM
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TAMPA, Fla., March 21 (UPI) -- The Florida state attorney's office has released a video showing a school bus driver literally kicking a special needs student off a bus.

The video, released Wednesday, shows Hillsborough County school bus driver Stephanie Wilkerson, 41, kicking an 8-year-old student off the bus Sept. 28, the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times reported.

The fall caused the student, who has autism, to break her ankle, a police report states.

Wilkerson is facing a charge of aggravated child abuse for this incident, to which she has pleaded not guilty. She has also been fired from her job with the school district.

Hillsborough County Schools Spokesman Steve Hegarty said Wilkerson's actions seen in the video are unacceptable, WFTS-TV, Tampa, reported.

"You ask for help. You don't have to get physical with a student. That's not your first option or even your second option," Hegarty said, adding it was an isolated incident.

However, critics say it is an example of a lack of training for educators concerning special needs students.

"There's a lack of training of staff. There's a lack of supervision," said Jose Colindres, who attends Hillsborough County school board meetings along with other parents. "This is a systemic problem. This is something that needs to be addressed at the very highest levels."

Hegarty said the school district held an intensive training session for bus drivers in January.

"They're welcome to their opinion, but I'm telling you that we're looking at everything we're doing to see if we can do it better," Hegarty said.

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