(Des Moines, WA) April is National Autism Awareness Month, and the need for Autism awareness is demonstrated in this disturbing video of a distressed Autistic child allegedly being slapped in the face by Jeanette Burrage. Burrage is a former Des Moines City Council Member who served as a King County Superior Court judge in the 1990’s. In the early 1980’s, Burrage was a former legislator who served on a select committee on child abuse.
Jeanette Burrage (Seattle Times)
On March 10th, a 6 year old Autistic boy from McMicken Heights Elementary School in SeaTac became agitated when he was placed onto the wrong school bus. The child has a special education plan and was supposed to be transported in a van for special needs children. The van is smaller in size and only has 2 other children riding it. This child needs structure and low stimulation, his mother Elizabeth Lyshol reports. The van also offers a nurturing environment, Lyshol says that, “The van driver and monitor are ‘very interactive’ with the kids, singing songs, reading books and playing with stickers on the drive. It’s really happy time for them to get home.”
The bus company was short staffed and so placed the special needs children on the regular bus. The parents were not notified about the change. When placed on a much larger school bus, that was unfamiliar and crowded, it was like setting the child up to fail. During the ride, the child became overstimulated and agitated so the bus monitor asked bus driver Jeanette Burrage to pull over.
Once the bus was pulled over, Jeanette Burrage, walked to the back of the bus to confront the boy. The boy asks to go home, and get off the bus. He is also seen tossing his coat and backpack. You can see on the video that the boy is visibly upset when cornered by Burrage. The child raises his hand to swat Burrage, who then appears to slap the child across the face. The child then screams and hides under the bus seat.
The child was brought home in a police car, the parents were told that he had hit the bus driver but not that she had slapped him. When another child reported that Burrage slapped the boy, and investigation began.
Burrage has been charged with 4th degree assault. The school district has also begun the process to terminate Burrage from her job as a bus driver. Burrage says she may appeal that decision. Many people are also demanding that Burrage step down from her seat on the City Council, Burrage says she will not step down.
Get Involved in Autism Awareness Month: http://www.autism-society.org/get-involved/national-autism-awareness-month/
“Former judge accused of slapping special-needs student on Highline bus” by Sara Jean Green, The Seattle Times, 4/17/2015: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/former-judge-accused-of-slapping-special-needs-student-on-highline-bus/
“School bus driver accused of slapping special needs student” by Heather Graf, King 5, 4/16/2015: http://www.king5.com/story/news/2015/04/17/school-bus-driver-accused-of-slapping-special-needs-student/25922401/
“Video appears to show a council member slapping a special needs child” by Nick McGurk, Kiro TV, 4/17/2015: http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/video-appears-show-council-member-striking-autisti/nkxdS/