By Victor Skinner
BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – A school bus attendant has been “reassigned” to another position while facing an aggravated child abuse charge for allegedly choking an autistic child he was entrusted to care for.
Darryl Blue, 48, was captured on the school bus surveillance camera choking an autistic student after the boy wet himself on the bus ride home. The child can be heard repeatedly crying out “you’re hurting me” and screaming in pain throughout the 45-minute incident, as bus driver Chelsi Edwards laughed along, the Miami Herald reports.
Neither Blue nor Edwards have been fired by the school district. Instead, school officials said they were reassigned to “a position away from students,” according to the Herald.
Of course both employees are union members. If they weren’t, they would already be out on their butts where they belong.
The victim’s mother, of course, is furious that the adults who carried out the abuse haven’t been fired. Bertis Paulino told the Herald the abuse left her son with bruises around his neck and serious mental trauma.
“Her formerly carefree honor roll student no longer wants to attend classes at Parkland’s Glades Middle School,” the newspaper reports. “Not only has his interest in school waned, but Paulino said her child is now frequently fearful – asking to sleep in his mother’s bed every night and reflexively putting his hands up in self-defense.”
“Paulino said her child is also demonstrating uncharacteristic moments of rage – breaking his laptop computer, setting a trash can on fire, and telling his mother she needs to ‘kill the man who hurt his neck,” the Herald reports.
As if the incident itself wasn’t bad enough, school and union officials have allegedly attempted to make excuses for Blue and Edwards. When Paulino attempted to secure a copy of the surveillance video of the incident, a school transportation official told her there was “nothing of concern” in the footage.
The school bus drivers union is also attempting to downplay the incident. Union representative Linda Lewis told the Herald that because police blurred the child’s face to protect his identity, she can’t tell if his suffering was authentic.
“I can’t see it clearly that there’s being any abuse,” Lewis said. The child’s strap “may have been pulled a little too tight or something, I don’t know.”
It’s amazing how much union officials care about kids.
We believe the video speaks for itself. It’s very difficult to imagine that the special needs student wasn’t suffering. The video, the child’s corresponding bruises and his change in behavior after the traumatic event are clear evidence Blue overstepped his bounds.
Police records also show bus driver Edwards did virtually nothing to help the struggling student, aside from telling Blue she believed the child was choking after the abuse carried on for several minutes.
We believe they both should be fired immediately, even though it’s likely the employees’ union will fight to reinstate them. Lewis already seems to be preparing their defense.
We believe the school transportation official who told Paulino the bus video contained “nothing of concern” should also face termination.
If school officials don’t remove all three employees from the payroll, they’re sending a message that they put the interests of miserable employees ahead of the district’s most vulnerable students.