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A 9-year-old boy with autism is afraid to get on the bus to school after an altercation with the bus’s former aide.
Evan is nonverbal, and has sensory sensitivities as well as difficulty using coping mechanisms. He takes a bus contracted by the Department of Education from his home in the Bronx to a special school in Westchester County during the week. There is a paraprofessional (aide) on the bus that helps him. There is also a bus attendant that sits in the front.
There are two sides to this narrative, and both parties deny starting the incident. However, hitting a child that you’re specifically supposed to be supporting is not okay, no matter who started it.
The paraprofessional says Evan bit her on the bus, and that she retaliated as a way to protect herself.
Evan did get upset on the bus, there’s no doubt about that. But according to the bus attendant, Luis Arias, the paraprofessional instigated the incident by riling Evan up.
Evan has “limited coping skills,” according to his family, and so his mom packs plenty of toys and snacks for him every day to give him something enjoyable to focus on. His family thinks that the paraprofessional took some of those coping tools away, and that that’s what triggered Evan’s anger.
Luis was able to soothe Evan after the altercation between the paraprofessional and him, after a few minutes. However, according to him, the paraprofessional didn’t let it go.
“At that point this lady looks at me and she goes, ‘I don’t care if I lose my job today,’” Luis said, “and she slaps him on his face. I want to say, maybe like two times.”
The attack occurred in the Bronx, but the bus didn’t pull over until it reached Westchester County. There, the police were contacted.
As a result of the attack, Evan had red welts all over his face.
Security footage showing both audio and visual of the incident was made available to the Westchester police department by the bus company, Van Trans. The police concluded that Evan “was the aggressor,” according to PIX11 News. The footage is not public at the time of this posting.
Luis admitted that Evan’s body did block part of his view of the incident.
Evan’s parents are outraged, and believe that the Westchester police just assumed Evan started the incident due to being big for his age, and that they don’t have enough training when it comes to special needs victims.
As of this posting, the paraprofessional is still employed by the same company, United Staffing Solutions, but does not work on Evan’s bus or any school bus anymore.
Further investigation into the incident has been picked up a state agency that specifically looks into the mistreatment of those with special needs, according to WABC.
As for Evan, his mom boards the bus with him every morning to help him feel safe enough to make the trip to school.
Learn more in this video