GALESBURG (WWJ/AP) – A video posted online showing a young child being slammed into a school bus window by a female transportation employee who was riding the bus to ensure the students behave has sparked a protest by parents and a criminal investigation by police in southern Michigan.
The boy’s mother told police that her son had been assaulted by the woman while riding the bus home from school Wednesday in the Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools district, about 50 miles southeast of Grand Rapids. The boy was 6- or 7-years-old, authorities said.
District Superintendent Tim Vagts said the employee, Heidi Mullin, was fired Thursday.
A 5-second video, apparently shot by someone on the bus and posted on the social networking website Facebook, shows a boy being lifted from a seat and slammed into a window with a loud bang. The woman yells “Sit down!” In the background, another student says, “Holy crap.”
It wasn’t clear if the child was injured. The boy, whom police didn’t identify, was back in school Thursday, Galesburg police Sgt. Jeff Heppler said.
Police also are investigating a claim by Mullin that the boy threatened her, Heppler said. Police spoke with the mother, the child, the district’s superintendent and transportation officials at the school, he said, but more interviews are planned. He said there also may be more video clips.
“We are trying to secure both what led up to this and what played into this,” Heppler said. “Anybody could face charges, whether it be at the juvenile level or the adult court level depends on the age and what the court and/or prosecutor determines needs to be done after we have completed our investigation.”
Vagts said Mullin worked for a company hired to handle transportation for the district. He said the bus driver had asked for help in controlling students, and that Mullin was on the bus to help address behavior management.
“What happened was not acceptable. It was not OK,” Vagts said. “We took action … and we’re working with families to listen to their concerns.”
Parents held a daylong protest outside the district’s bus garage. About two dozen parents and students were outside Thursday evening, carrying signs and calling for action by the district. Cathy Taylor, one of the parents who turned out, said her 13-year-old son was on the bus when the incident took place.
“He couldn’t even believe what he was seeing,” Taylor said.
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