Jeanette Burrage, City Council Member and Former Judge, Accused of Slapping Autistic Child

(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:


“Former judge accused of slapping special-needs student on Highline bus” by Sara Jean Green, The Seattle Times, 4/17/2015:

“School bus driver accused of slapping special needs student” by Heather Graf, King 5, 4/16/2015:

“Video appears to show a council member slapping a special needs child” by Nick McGurk, Kiro TV, 4/17/2015:

About EJ

Parenting Abused Kids (PAK) reflects the personal thoughts and opinions of "EJ" sharing her experiences of surviving domestic abuse and injustice in family court. PAK also includes news and informational articles about abuse and family court issues. The purpose of PAK is to raise awareness of the challenges domestic abuse survivors to rebuild their lives after experiencing domestic abuse, compounded with the struggles of ongoing family court litigation. PAK will also discuss and raise awareness about issues related to parenting children who have been abused, and often present with emotional and behavioral problems. Parenting Abused Kids is not affiliated with any professional group, political group, organization or religious affiliation. My sincere love and support goes out to abuse survivors and their children. I am so sorry for what you have endured, and pray your lives will be filled with the happiness you so deserve. Thank-you for visiting!
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2 Responses to Jeanette Burrage, City Council Member and Former Judge, Accused of Slapping Autistic Child

  1. EJ Perth says:

    I applaud the efforts of the school district and the police to investigate this incident, and to hold Ms. Burrage accountable. Her actions are reprehensible, there are always other options to work with children rather than resort to violence.

    I also have a special needs child who has had difficulty riding a regular school bus. My child was on a special education plan for Aspberger’s in school but was never formally diagnosed. I found evidence in a treatment plan that the Guardian ad Litem, Jamie Manning, was having communication with my child’s therapist, and suggesting to the therapist that the best treatment for my child was to limit contact with his mother (me). The therapist went along with Jamie Manning’s suggestions, and this became the basis for severely limiting my parenting time. There was no physical or medical evidence to suggest that I have ever harmed my children. In fact, all reports from therapists and other professionals working with my family, have noted positive interactions between my children and I.

    I am a fit, loving mother who works in home healthcare, and has experience working with people with physical and mental disabilities. I am also successfully raising another child, who is solely in my care. I lost custody of my children to an allegedly abusive parent, who has a long criminal history, and history of various addictions. My children have been harmed due to this unjust court order, as there have been other incidents of abuse. My children continue to beg to come home, and do not understand why the court is keeping us apart.

    My child with special needs is still struggling, and has regressed in school so much that the teachers told me that they fear for his future. The school asked for psychological testing, to include an examination for early childhood trauma (which can contribute to behavioral and emotional problems). The abusive father refused to do the testing, and instead pulled my child out of school. When I filed a motion to request testing, the Hennepin County Family Court Judge instead ordered me into mediation with my abuser! The abuser refused to attend mediation and now is refusing to communicate any information to me about the daily care or well-being of my children.

    Systemic failures in family court and the Guardian ad Litem program are negatively impacting families across Minnesota… be part of the change. Contact A Call to Action to help raise awareness and fight for reform.

    E-mail: victimsofmanning @ hotmail. com

    Read about the history of Call to Action and add your thoughts:

    Also visit Minnesota Guardian Watch for proposed reform and news:


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