NEW LENOX, Ill. — A video showing a bus aide slapping a 6-year-old girl with autism has left an Illinois father heartbroken.
In the surveillance-camera footage, the unidentified aide strikes the little girl twice as she screams while riding to school in New Lenox, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
Nicholas Rushing said his daughter, Kaylee, is nonverbal. Rushing said he found out about the incident because the superintendent of the local school district contacted him and asked him to review the footage.
The video “broke my heart,” he said.
The footage showed the woman had been touching Kaylee throughout the bus ride, denying her personal space, Rushing said.
Kaylee spat on the woman, who reacted by slapping her in the face, he said.
“She is an awesome kid and she is super sweet and for this to happen as a dad it almost feels like I failed her … I don’t think I have ever been more mad in my life,” he said.
While Kaylee did not suffer any physical injuries, the incident has affected how she responds to strangers, Rushing said.
“It kind of changed her personality on things,” he said. “She doesn’t want anything to do with people she doesn’t know.”
Rushing said the bus aide had only been with the bus company for two weeks and did not appear to have been trained to follow protocols around Kaylee.
New Lenox police are reviewing the entire video as part of the investigation, Rushing said.
“I’m worried as a dad it may not be the first time this happened,” he said. “My main goal is to make sure this never happens to any other people.”
Rushing said staff members notified the school district superintendent about the incident.
The school district told WLS that the aide involved was not a district employee, and worked for the bus contractor, Lincoln-Way Special Education District.
The bus operator’s executive director, Sarah Rexroad, said an investigation is underway.
“I cannot provide a specific comment at this time. There is an ongoing investigation regarding an incident that allegedly occurred on a school bus. Student safety is a number one priority for the cooperative,” she said.
No charges have been filed, WLS reported.