Bus driver in Ohio accused of choking student

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A veteran bus driver in Ohio choked a third grade special-needs student as she was driving the girl home from school in an encounter captured on video, a school official said Thursday.

A surveillance system recorded the driver Tuesday afternoon while she drove the 9-year-old from school in a district bus used to transport special-needs students, Columbus City Schools spokesman Jeff Warner said. He was not sure how many other children were on the bus and did not know whether the girl was injured.

Driver Laura Roberson, 59, of Canal Winchester, was suspended without pay pending a hearing Thursday on a district charge of malfeasance, Warner said. The district has told her it plans to fire her, he said.

Roberson did not immediately return a call to her home Thursday seeking comment.

Warner said it was not clear what led to the encounter, but he said the recording showed that Roberson’s actions “were not physically appropriate.”

He said that the girl’s foster mother reported the matter to police and to the school, but Warner did not know whether criminal charges had been filed. A police report did not list Roberson as a suspect, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The report said no weapons were used, but that the student was injured.

Roberson had been a driver for the 50,000-student district since 1984, and the only other incident reported against her was backing into a stop sign in 2009, Warner said.

He said the district has more than 800 drivers who do great work and have a difficult job.

“But we want to everything we can to protect our students and to ensure that they are transported to school in a safe and caring fashion,” he said.

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