Sheriff’s deputies have released footage of a disturbing incident in which a Florida school bus attendant struck a child with special needs as a form of discipline.
The bus surveillance video shows 65-year-old Brenda Nelson, who has worked as a bus attendant since 1983, walk past the child in question and hit her on the head with an open palm before telling her, “I’m gonna slap that tongue out of your mouth when I get up there.” Later in the video, she walks behind the child’s seat, grabs her by the hair and violently shakes her back and forth while she screams in pain.
Nelson reportedly told the school bus driver to drop the victim off first, rather than following the bus’s regular route. For the remainder of the ride, she sat next to the child, pushing her further down into her seat to “limit her mobility.” She told detectives the child was misbehaving by hitting the window and trying to get out of her seat. Investigators contradicted that claim, however, saying the girl was secured by a harness and not acting disruptively.
“I guess I done it. I didn’t remember hitting her,” Nelson later said of the ordeal. “I must have just lost it. I don’t remember doing that. I would never hit one of those kids.”
Investigators determined Nelson’s actions were not acceptable disciplinary measures and could have resulted in injury, considering the victim is epileptic and her mobility had been severely restricted. Nelson was arrested and charged with child abuse and was released from jail after posting bond.
“We reviewed the video and it’s just disturbing what we saw,” said Scott Wilder with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. “Ms. Nelson, she grabbed the hair of this child and shook her head violently. She hit her on top of the head. It’s just a shame.”
The Polk County School Board school board released a statement on the matter, indicating that Nelson will lose her job:
Our children are the single most precious thing on this earth. At Polk County Public Schools, our most important job is to protect them, to provide them with a safe environment in which they can grow, learn and thrive. This employee squandered the trust of the children and families in her care. She does not embody the values of Polk County Public Schools, and I will not tolerate it. I have instructed my HR staff to immediately begin the process of termination.