Teacher and bus driver berate and threaten special-needs student on school bus: Lawsuit

A special-needs teacher and bus driver in Mississippi are facing a civil complaint on top of criminal counts related to incidents aboard a bus that were allegedly caught on tape between 2014 and 2015.

According to the Sun Herald, prosecutors say a surveillance camera mounted inside the bus captured abuse of a disabled female student by St. Martin Middle School teacher Kerri Anne Nettles and bus driver Antoinette Jane Raymond. They have both since been fired and faced charges related to assaulting and threatening the alleged victim.

The young girl reported suffers from a chromosomal abnormality that has rendered her largely unable to speak. Those with the condition often lash out and demonstrate physical outbursts.

At the time of the video, she was 14 years old but reportedly had the mental capacity of a much younger child.

“She can’t do anything on her own,” said the girl’s grandfather, Thomas Pearce. “That’s why this is so upsetting.”

In addition to criminal cases against the two women, Pearce has filed a civil suit against the school district, principal and others after watching the video below.

The girl’s family said she began having nightmares, prompting concern and ultimately an investigation.

Her grandfather’s complaint includes specific allegations, such as that Nettles put a rag in the girl’s mouth and trapped her in a closet.

Nettles pleaded no contest to charges including neglect and simple assault. Her attorney, however, defended the practice caught on tape as a recognized technique to calm a child.

Raymond allegedly threatened to jail or even kill the girl for making noise. The woman later sat down next to her, continuing to push her closer to the window.

“Go ahead, move, move,” the bus driver said, according to the footage. “Can you move now? Huh? You going to shut that mouth, huh? You going to holler anymore? You do it again, I’m going to warn you again. You better shut your mouth You hear me? You hear me?”

Her criminal trial is pending, the Sun Herald reported.

Michael Crosby, the attorney handling Pearce’s case, expressed his disgust over the treatment he said he witnessed in the surveillance footage.

“The actual viewing of the abhorrent events so disturbed me that I have yet to recover emotionally,” he said.

He said he hopes the civil case will “serve as notice to all parents that we live in a world in which we can no longer assume anything, especially when it comes to the safety and well-being of our children.”

[Featured image: Kerri Anne Nettles/Video screenshot, Jackson County Adult Detention Center]