FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – After viewing a surveillance tape in which a school bus attendant reportedly abused a 13-year old boy with autism, Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie had demanded action.
“I was appalled, I was upset and outraged by it,” said Runcie on Tuesday.
On the tape bus attendant Darryl Blue is seen yanking on a strap connected to the boy’s safety harness, essentially choking him. In the background there is the laughter of the bus’ driver Chelsi Edwards.
Runcie wants both Blue and Edwards fired.
“We can’t tolerate that type of behavior. None of our students and families deserves that at all. I’m very saddened by it. I reached out to the parents and spoke to them personally and I’m hopeful that the student, the child, will recover from this incident.”
The boy’s mother, Bertis Paulino, said she received a call from Runcie to let her know he’s taking the case seriously.
Paulino said the Ocotber 9th incident left her son traumatized. The Deerfield Beach mother said the harness that was supposed to protect her little boy was used to hurt him instead.
“This is device my son was wearing and this was around his neck like this,” Paulino gestured with the harness. “He was pleading and howling like an animal in pain.”
In the video, the boy can be heard saying, “Ow, you’re hurting me.”
“What he did, we believe is criminal,” Broward Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Veda Coleman-Wright said.
Blue has been charged with felony aggravated child abuse.
“He’s really shaken about it,” Blue’s sister said last week outside his Fort Lauderdale home. “It’s not something he would normally do. It’s not. There was no intention to hurt the child.”
Paulino wants to press charges against Edwards, claiming she instigated the abuse after her son urinated in his pants.
“No parent should go through this,” Paulino said. “I have given my son a very good life and now his life is shattered.”
Blue has been reassigned to a job away from students. He it out of jail on $7,500 bond. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison.