A school bus driver from Hillsborough County in Tampa, Florida, 41 year-old Stephanie Wilkerson, was videotaped kicking an 8 year-old autistic child off her bus causing the girl to fracture her ankle. The recording was just released and is going viral. Wilkerson apparently lost her patience as the special needs child was exiting the stairwell of the school bus, so she gave her a push with her foot. The little girl fell and broke her ankle, as the video shows the bus driver rushing to help her up. However, she then got the remainder of the students off the bus and drove away, as reported by The Miami Herald on Wednesday, March 20.
The incident occurred back on September 28th of last year. Records show Stephanie Wilkerson was hired in August 2008, and fired in January by the school board. She was arraigned in December and plead not guilty. Her next court appearance comes next month.
The video, which can be viewed above or on USA Today, shows pediatric nurse Kim Williams reacting to the incident in astonishment. “Why would they do that, oh my God”!, she’s heard saying while being shown the recording.
Wilkerson is facing a charge of aggravated child abuse. The video shows the bus driver later chowing down on what looks like a breakfast burrito, as she calmly continues driving the bus as if nothing happened.
Shocked parents reacted to viewing the video in horror. Police say the girl had slapped and pushed the driver in the past, but those trained in dealing with special needs children say that’s no excuse.
School district spokesman Stephen Hegarty said whether the student was cooperating or not, Wilkerson and other bus drivers, “need to exercise good judgment and restraint”. He reiterated that in dealing with a special needs child, you need to be held to a higher standard.
Williams found the tape “especially appalling”, adding, “It takes patience, to deal with special needs kids”.
A phone number listed for the accused bus driver was said to have been disconnected. It’s not known if she has an attorney.