DES MOINES, Iowa -- A bus driver for Des Moines Public Schools and a bus attendant were fired for an incident involving a special needs child last November.
The incident came to light after an unemployment insurance appeals decision, which says a bus attendant, Ruby Taylor, mistreated a child during a 14-minute bus ride on Nov. 4, 2015.
According to the document, the student was crying when he got on the bus and two teachers helped him get into his seat. Due to the student’s special needs, it is required that he is secured in his seat with a wraparound seat belt. The document alleges Taylor did not secure the straps tightly enough so the child was able to repeatedly stand up.
The document alleges Taylor, “yelled at the student, told him he was ‘too big to be crying’” and she would kick him off the bus if he didn’t quiet down. After yelling at the student, Taylor was reportedly not watching the other children and was on her personal cell phone during the incident.
When the child would not stop crying, Taylor allegedly put down her cell phone and again yelled at the student.
“For the next seven minutes, the claimant pins the student against the side of the bus more and more tightly. Eventually she has the student pinned with his face against the side of the bus and window frame,” the document says.
She allegedly did not release the child until the bus reached his stop.
The child's mother complained to the principal the next day and noted marks on the child's face.The district then began an investigation, which determined Taylor violated district policies "in how she spoke to and touched the child."
"She had neglected her job duties by excessive use of her cell phone. The level two investigations determined that the claimant had physically abused the child," the document says.
Taylor and the bus driver, Terri Brown, were fired on Dec. 1.
Official documents say Taylor and Brown worked for the district for about 20 years.
Amanda Lewis, with Des Moines Public Schools, sent Channel 13 this statement:
"Student safety is our top concern and so when an incident is reported to the district, [the] administration takes immediate action to remove the employee from contact with students until an investigation can be completed. DMPS has clear rules of employee conduct and if those rules are violated, steps are taken up to and including termination. Cases involving mistreatment of a student are a clear violation of the trust and expectation the district has that all of its employees work in the best interests of the students we serve."
Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek said the police department has not been contacted about the incident and an investigation is not currently underway.
Channel 13 obtained the bus surveillance video as evidence in the unemployment case through Iowa Workforce Development.
The unemployment appeal documents include a letter from the child’s mother, saying she didn't want to press charges. She said she thinks Taylor did what she thought was best to protect the students on the bus, including her son.
Records show both Taylor and Brown lost their appeals with Iowa Workforce Development. They were ordered to repay the unemployment benefits they received.