What to Know
Cellphone video shows a 13-year-old girl with special needs being assaulted by a school bus attendant in Manhattan last month
Her distraught parents are suing, saying it needs to be a teaching moment for adults who care for kids with special needs
The DOE says the attendant has been suspended, and working with the NYPD on the investigation into the incident
A 13-year-old girl with special needs was allegedly assaulted by an attendant inside a school bus traveling in Manhattan last month, her family alleges.
Cellphone video shows the bus attendant allegedly grabbing the head of the girl, who has the mental capacity of a 5-year-old child, then pulling down her hood and shoving her into the bus seat on their Oct. 30 morning ride to Manhattan Children's Center.
The video showed the girl named India screaming and promising, "I'll calm down," but the attendant didn't let go. A paraprofessional on the bus was so disturbed by what they saw they began recording.
"I didn't believe it at first looking at it," said the girl's mother, Julia Alexandra. "I was outraged. Freaking out, crying. It is clearing someone attacking my child."
Father Shaheen Knox said he was distraught.
"I was so upset," he said in tears. "It was horrific. It was relentless and sadistic."
India's parents plan on suing. Their attorney Sanford Rubenstein said it needs to be teachable lesson not for children, but adults.
"A bus attendant who is specifically assigned to a bus with developmentally disabled children should certainly have at the least some training on how to deal with these children and certainly should not be assaulting children," said Rubenstein.
The video continues to haunt India's parents, who wonder if this was the first alleged assault on the bus. The physical injuries have healed, but the emotional wounds are still very raw, her parents said.
"It's traumatized my daughter," said Knox. "She's been vomiting her food. She has been having nightmares, screaming at night. Kicking the side of her bed until her toes bleed, fearful of getting back on a school bus."
The Department of Education said in a statement that it's cooperating with the NYPD's investigation into the alleged assault, and that the attendant was immediately suspended and the family provided with a new bus route.
"Our students must be safe on our school buses, and anything less is unacceptable," the DOE said.