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School bus surveillance video appears to show driver booting autistic girl onto ground

A video camera captures a school bus driver literally kicking a special needs child off the bus, resulting in a broken ankle. WFLA's Josh Thomas reports.

A Florida school district has released video that appears to show a bus driver kicking an autistic student down the stairs.

In the video released Wednesday by Hillsborough County schools, bus driver Stephanie Wilkerson, 42, stands behind an 8-year-old girl as she hesitates on the stairs. According to the sheriff's office, the student slaps Wilkerson, who then appears to use her foot to kick the girl in the back, causing her to fly down the stairs and onto the ground.

Wilkerson was fired after the Sept. 28, 2012, incident, which Tampa police say resulted in a broken ankle for the young girl, reported NBC affiliate WFLA.com. Wilkerson now faces aggravated child abuse charges, the station said.

"If a bus driver or teacher or anyone makes contact with a student that results in injury, we take that very, very seriously," Steve Hagerty, spokesman for Hillsborough County school district, told WFLA.com. "You are the adult. You have to show restraint. You are held to a very high standard. Pushing a student where they fall of the bus and injure themselves -- it is obviously beyond anything they are allowed to do."

Wilkerson has not spoken to any media outlets. WFLA.com attempted to reach her for comment, but was unable to. It's unclear whether or not she is represented by an attorney.


The girl's parents are suing the Hillsborough County school district, which has seen two special needs students die since the September bus incident, according to local media.

In October, 10-year-old Jenny Caballero, who had Down Syndrome, drowned in a nearby pond after wandering from her middle school gym class. In November, Isabella Herrera, a 7-year-old who was confined to a wheelchair because of a neuromuscular disorder, stopped breathing on her bus ride to school. An aide noticed during the ride that Isabella was in distress, but neither the aide nor the driver stopped the ride to call 911, Isabella's parents say.

The school district has created a task force to make sure children with special needs receive the proper treatment they need at school and en route to school since firing Wilkerson, Hagerty said.