Mother of hearing impaired child blames bus aide for bruises

Published: Oct. 10, 2013 at 2:27 PM EDT
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By Meghan McRoberts

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL (WFLX) - An Indian River County bus aide is temporarily off of his bus route following allegations that he has been too physical with a hearing-impaired boy on his bus.

The bus picks up 4-year-old Rage, and takes him to Oak Hammock K-8 in Port St. Lucie.

The boy's mother, Chantale Thompson, says her son has shown up for school twice this year with bruises.

She says he leaves home without any marks, but after his 45 minute bus ride, she has been called by school officials saying he has suspicious bruises.

Thompson knows keeping Rage in line takes clear communication through sign language. She worries the bus aide is not using his hands to sign, but rather to physically keep her child in line. "Three words in sign language could have actually avoided all of this: No, stop, and sit," Thompson said.

The school called her on Tuesday to describe what they saw. "He's got a fingerprint bruise on his forearm," Thompson said. "He's four. You don't have to squeeze that hard."

Rage can't say what happened, but shows Thompson by grabbing his arm, and signing to her. "What I got from him was it hurts, it was wrong, and the scary, angry person made him cry," Thompson said.

Thompson got a similar call in March. "They called me about a suspicious hand print on his leg," Thompson said.

After Thompson complained about the bus aide in March, Indian River Transportation officials installed a surveillance camera on the bus.

Thompson says the problem with the second incident is that it happened outside the bus, and out of the camera view. "So yet again, no camera. It's not on film. How am I supposed to protect my child?" Thompson said.

Thompson says she is driving Rage to school herself for now.

George Millar with Indian River County transportation says the bus aide has been removed from the bus pending an investigation.

Port St. Lucie Police are also investigating the case.

The bus aide declined a comment, and referred questions to the district for information.

Millar says the aide has been a quality aide for several years. Millar also says aides that will be working with children with special needs are given special training.

Millar would not confirm how much sign language training the aide received or if he actually used it to communicate.

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