Metro Schools facing lawsuit over alleged sexual abuse on Special Ed bus

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 at 2:09am

The father of a Metro Nashville public school student filed a lawsuit Monday against the system after his 11-year-old daughter, who is a special education student, was alleged sexually assaulted twice on a school bus last October.

According to the suit filed in Davidson Country Circuit Court, on Oct. 4-5, 2006, the girl, who is autistic, suffered a “prolonged sexual battery by a fellow special needs student while riding home from school on the school bus.”

The incident was recorded on the bus video camera. The driver, Danielle Beach, was suspended following the incident and resigned from the district Oct. 30, 2006.

The girl’s father said the school district has not been responsive to his requests for information regarding the incident and administrators are simply “playing a game” concerning issues of special needs children.

“This is the game they’re playing and they’re hiding behind their bureaucratic jobs to do it no less,” the father said.

According to a statement district spokesman Woody McMillin provided The City Paper, due to the ongoing investigation “the administration of MNPS (Metro Nashville Public Schools) is unable to discuss details or provide additional information at this time”.

“The well-being of children is of paramount importance to us — as it is for any school system,” according to the statement.

Police spokesperson Don Aaron said the police have concluded their investigation and there has been no prosecution of the alleged student offender because of his developmental issues.

Attorney for the family, Gary Blackburn, has watched the video recording from inside the bus and said it was clear the 11-year-old was assaulted and her clothing was in disarray while exiting the bus afterwards.

He is hoping that this lawsuit will encourage the school district to acknowledge a mistake was made and needs to be corrected.

“What we would like would be to have, promptly, a mediation that included the Director of Schools [Pedro Garcia]… and that part of what comes of that is an understanding and acknowledgment by the school board of these needs and a promise to put a plan in place to correct them,” Blackburn said.

The family would also like a response from school board members.

“I wish these folks on the Board of Education would come to us in good faith and discuss ameliorating what is obviously a serious problem not properly being addressed,” Blackburn said.

According to the lawsuit, the family is asking “for a jury to hear and render judgment” in the case.

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By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 7:00

How does this happen on any bus never mind one for special students?Even if it was consensual it should not happen under school supervision.

By: 37205Democrat on 12/31/69 at 7:00

The school board acted pretty quick on this, IMO. They immediately installed a new principal at JTM after the other one deferred any action. There should be aids riding these buses as a majority of the special ed kids riding them have behavioral problems, not just disabilities.

By: shadylane on 12/31/69 at 7:00

As my daughter boarded the school bus in January, her hip dislocated. She was unable to climb the stairs onto the bus so the driver closed the door and drove away leaving her, injured, unable to walk, crying in pain on the side of the road at the bus stop and didn't even call his dispatcher. Though she is not a special needs child, the board of education considers leaving a helpless, injured child on the side of the road as "doing nothing wrong".

By: russpro82 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

37205, I agree that an aid should ride on this bus. I fear, however, that an aid could not be provided due to lack of sufficient funding for Metro schools. I was disgusted yesterday to read the article that said Metro council is giving $5 million to the Symphony Hall, $5 million to the new African-American museum, but only $4.4 million to Metro schools. Even a small chunk of that other money could easily help provide such assistance to students who obviously need supervision.

By: brownus05 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

First of all, "consenual" ??? Are you kidding me? That is ridiculous. This child was 11 years old!! Secondly, the child that did this needs to face some consequences. He was obviously mentally capable of doing it, So he has to know right from wrong. He was bending down to hide from the driver. Plus there were children STANDING UP turned around watching the whole thing. HELLO RED FLAG BUS DRIVER!! The wrong message is being sent by just letting it go, to him and other children. Plus, I don't care how much it cost-there needs to be an aid (if they would do a better job than this driver did!) Some sort of supervision need to be on ALL buses. I thought the schools were there to protect and serve these children. They need to step up and do a better job. Who is going to protect these children??????? They ONLY HAVE THEIR PARENTS TO DO THAT OBVIOUSLY! Before anything else is funded our schools should be THE MOST IMPORTANT. This whole thing along with alot else that is going on in the world is just revolting. WHEN ARE WE GONNA SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?? WHEN ITS TOO LATE???

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 7:00

HEY the school board hired pedro again after giveing him a less then stella rating.The inmates are running the asylem.