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School bus driver charged with abuse after incident with student

A Tampa-area school bus driver is expected to be charged with a felony count of child abuse after being arrested on Oct. 25. The arrest is in connection with an incident on the suspect's bus that took place between her and an 8-year-old passenger. Authorities say that the driver pushed the girl as she was exiting the bus, causing her to fall and injure her ankle.

On Sep. 28, according to surveillance footage from the bus' security camera, the girl, who is on the autism spectrum, was trying to get off the bus but was jostling other passengers so the driver told her to wait her turn. The girl became upset, slapping and pushing the driver, 40.

Finally, the girl calmed down and turned to exit the bus. She hesitated on the middle stair leading to the door. On the footage, the driver appears to use her foot to push the girl forward. The girl falls to the ground.

A few days later, someone from the school contacted the Florida Abuse Hotline. Hillsborough County deputies and Tampa police began investigating the accusation against the driver. The investigation culminated in the woman's arrest on suspicion of aggravated child abuse, a felony, the afternoon of Oct. 25. She was being held without bail as of later that day.

It will be interesting to see if the girl's behavior will be a factor in the case. A school district spokesman claimed that the events leading up to the fall "doesn't matter" as far as the driver's suspension from her job is concerned.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Hillsborough school bus driver accused of abusing autistic student," Jessica Vander Velde, Oct. 26, 2012

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