In early February an incident between a school bus driver and an 8-year-old autistic child was captured on video displaying the driver mocking and putting her hands on the child. The video was publicly released, and the driver is facing criminal charges.
64-year-old Kim Cheryle Klopson drives a school bus for the Vacaville Unified School District in Vacaville, California. On the morning of February 6, she was charged with driving the special needs children to Browns Valley Elementary School.
While the bus was en route to the school Klopson reprimanded an 8-year-old autistic girl who was on board and allegedly told her that if she continued to block the aisle with her feet she was “going to be on the window,” as heard on the surveillance equipment installed inside of the bus.
When they arrived at the school and the other children got off of the bus Klopson allegedly would not allow the 8-year-old to disembark. She was believed to be heard calling the child a baby and teasing her in the recording, and when the student tried to exit the bus Klopson can be seen detaining her by holding on to her backpack.
An aide from the school approached the bus to try to escort the child to the building but the driver reportedly dismissed her and closed the bus door. Over the next four minutes, the footage recorded showed what appeared to be Klopson physically pulling the child from the floor to the seat of the bus by her shirt while the girl was struggling and crying. She also can be heard making fun of the girl while she handled her roughly and finally physically ejected her from the bus.
The child was then allegedly taken to her classroom where she complained that she was physically hurt. She was escorted to the nurse who reported that the child had noticeable bruising and scraping and she notified the principal of the situation.
After the school day ended and the child got back on the bus to return home her parents were notified about what had allegedly taken place that morning, and they were asked to come to the school to view the surveillance video of what had happened.
The school district notified all of the families who had children riding on a bus within the district and disclosed the details of the incident to them. They also reported that Klopson had received all of the professional training and state certifications required for performing her job and that they plan to keep in contact with the families as the matter is investigated.
The Vacaville Police Department became involved and Klopson was taken into custody and booked into Solano County Jail. She was charged with felony child abuse and she entered a plea of not guilty to the allegations. She was later released after posting bail.
The attorney working for the family of the child disclosed that the family has upcoming plans to open a lawsuit against the Vacaville Unified School District. She stated that the amount of training the suspect received is not a factor and that “under the law, the school district is responsible for her abusive behavior.”
The 6-year-old has reportedly suffered from mental trauma since the event took place and she is being treated by a professional.
The VUSD stated that they had released Klopson from her position, but Klopson maintained that she left the job on her own accord.
Klopson is scheduled to appear back in court for the child abuse charges on July 11.
If you or someone you love is suspected of child abuse, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.