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Colorado parents and autism advocates rally to address alleged abuse on school bus

Parents and autism advocates rally to address alleged abuse on school bus
Parents and autism advocates rally to address alleged abuse on school bus 02:53

At least two children with autism have been identified by police as alleged victims of abuse on a Littleton Public Schools school bus, according to attorneys representing three families. They said a third family has also documented injuries on their child.

The allegations follow the release of a video earlier this week showing a school bus aide punching a 10-year-old. The injuries included fractured bones, a knocked-out tooth, and deep bruises.

Families are now calling for more transparency, along with members of the autism advocacy community.

At Littleton Public Schools board meeting on Thursday, family members of the victims called for the resignation of the superintendent and transportation director.


"You guys have failed us," said Blake McBride, father of an allegedly abused child.

"You're supposed to do more. Why didn't you do more to keep my brother safe?" asked the brother of a victim.

"I want action. We want change. So, make it right, or resign," said Jessica McBride, who also stated her son was identified as a victim of alleged abuse.

Parents expressed anger about the alleged abuse captured on video last month and frustration with the district's lack of action. They also raised questions about how and why this happened.

"As a parent of an autistic child myself, this is your worst fears coming true," said Jennifer Korb, executive director of the Autism Society of Colorado.

Korb said cases like this highlight several issues, including a statewide shortage of staff.

"This is one area that school districts are really struggling [with], keeping and maintaining high standards of training for paraprofessionals," said Korb.

She said positions like this are hard to fill, making it difficult for school districts and transportation services across the state.

"It really puts a strain on how we're hiring, how quickly we're hiring, [and] are we rushing through training to get people into a position to make sure that children are supervised," said Korb.


She believes in offering more incentives in the future to fill positions for those who work with the most vulnerable children.

"That's something we can look at systemically. Additionally, when we hire individuals, are we offering the right training? Are we sending the most qualified people out to support children in their transportation needs?" said Korb.

She also believes there should be a change in policy, such as more audits and checks of video cameras on school buses.

"As more and more children with autism are being diagnosed, I imagine that we'll start to see more and more policies like that implemented, because more and more children will be needing services," said Korb.

Family members also called for more to be done.

"If you have any appreciation for who our children are, you would have prioritized the proactive and regular review of the footage captured on that bus," said McBride.

"I really care about my brother and his friends, and I don't want to see this happen to anyone ever again," said the brother of a victim.

Korb also said it's important for parents to be proactive and ask questions if they're concerned so they feel confident about their child's safety. These questions include who is on your child's team, who is the bus driver, and what are their qualifications and background, etc.

"You trust us with the well-being and care of your children, and due to one individual, that trust has been strained, and maybe even lost," said Littleton Public Schools Superintendent Todd Lambert, in a letter to parents on Thursday. 

Lambert went on to state that they are always looking for ways to strengthen their practices and will continue to review what happened.

The full statement can be viewed at Littleton Public Schools' website.

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