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Reported by Andrew Scot Bolsinger
A Florida school bus driver has been charged with cruelty to children after allegedly smacking a special-needs child in the face.
According to a reported by the Pensacola News Journal, Pamela Hardy, 56, was “charged with child cruelty without great bodily harm” in the incident, which occurred April 29 and was recorded by cameras installed in the school bus.
According to a Pensacola Police Department report, the nine-year-old boy was on the bus earlier than normal and repeatedly asked Hardy for permission to use the restroom.
In the video footage, Hardy was seen mocking the boy, who “has a learning disability, is deaf in one ear and utilizes a hearing aid in the other,” the News Journal reports.
According to the police report, Hardy can be heard saying, “quit whining like a child.” She reportedly told the boy that “he would not be allowed to get back on the bus if he got off.”
According to the report, the nine-year-old “made a gesture at [Hardy], as if he wanted her out of his face,” and “Hardy takes the back of her right hand and slaps him across the face.”
Malcolm Thomas, the Escambia County, Fla. superintendent of schools, told the News Journal that “the incident is currently under investigation by the school district and law-enforcement agencies.
“Until all of the facts are presented and we’ve reviewed them all, I will refrain from making any judgments,” Thomas added.
School bus drivers are off for the summer, the superintendent said.
But during its investigation, the school district reviewed more footage of Hardy’s conduct on the buses she drove and found “several other recorded incidents” of bad behavior, including taunting the boy.
“Just a day before the altercation with the child, cameras reportedly caught Hardy demanding that a student apologize for stepping on her foot, even though, according to the police report, the child clearly didn’t make contact with the driver’s foot,” The Root reports.
That same day, Hardy reportedly drove the school bus to the Escambia County Jail parking lot, leaving her normal assigned route.
Timisha Cotton, the mother of the student in the alleged slapping incident, said she immediately filed charges against Hardy.
Andrew Scot Bolsinger won more than two dozen press awards during his journalism career. He is a freelance writer, author and operates www.criminalu.co, which is focused on prison reform. He can reached at Andrew.Bolsinger@gmail.com and can be followed @CriminalUniv on Twitter.