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Ohio Bus Aide Assault Report on Special-Needs Teen Questioned

There was no comment from the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities regarding a one-week gap between the assault of a student by a bus aide and when the investigation began, reported The Vindicator.

Testimony during former Leonard Kirtz Schools bus aide Patricia Bennett’s trial indicated that an anonymous letter asking the board to look into the incident more thoroughly was the impetus for investigator Blase Brush to review bus security video and discover Bennett’s misconduct.

A jury found Bennett, 59, guilty of felony assault, and of misdemeanor child endangering and falsification for an incident in a bus owned by the school district for which Bennett worked.

She was taken to jail and could serve up to 18 months in prison, after judge Maureen Sweeney read the verdict and revoked Bennett’s bond.

According to the trial testimony, Bennett assaulted a 17 year-old student by reaching out to push, grab and punch him.

The student’s family filed a suit, seeking damages for his pain and suffering while stating that several employees witnessed part of the incident yet no incident report was filed.

The board stated the boy’s family was notified of the incident and denies that claim that no report was was filed.

Brush reported at the trial that he was aware of the incident the next day it ocurred but it was only portrayed as a behavior issue rather than an assault.

One of Bennett’s convictions was for making a false written statement regarding the details of the assault. She is no longer employed by MCBDD but it is unknown if she was fired.

Charles Cornelius, the driver of the bus on the day of the incident, testified to leaving his seat and telling Bennett to release the student, who she had pinned down.

Whitacre was asked if Cornelius was disciplined for his actions. However, he gave no comment.

Prosecutors have said the student did not suffer any physical injuries and Whitacre stated that Brush retired from his investigator’s job earlier this year.


Related: Ohio Considers National Guard as Potential Bus Drivers
Related: Getting More from Your School Bus Surveillance Solutions
Related: Relying on Video to Identify Onboard Cases of School Bus Bullying
Related: Focus on Rider Experience: The Way Forward

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