Father of Overton student allegedly assaulted by bus driver speaks out

Published 8:59 pm Wednesday, January 16, 2019

SALISBURY — The father of an autistic child who was allegedly struck by a Rowan-Salisbury Schools bus driver says he was heartbroken to learn about the incident.

An Overton Elementary School teacher reported seeing a bus driver strike the 7-year-old boy, who is nonverbal. The teacher saw the incident Friday and reported it to police on Monday.

Shane Church received a call from the school’s principal and then a Salisbury police officer. According to Church, he was told the bus driver hit his son in the chest.

“He is a nonverbal child. He can’t tell me anything that happens to him,” Church said.

The bus did have a camera, and school system officials are reviewing the footage. The Salisbury Police Department is working to obtain the video.

Church said he would also like to see the footage.

Church says the officer told him he’d seen the video and it was enough to warrant an investigation. Police Sgt. Travis Shulenburger said no charges have been filed and the investigation is ongoing.

Church said he’s heartbroken to know his child may have been assaulted by someone he trusted.

He said the bus driver, who has been driving his son to and from school for two years, often told him how the child’s day was.

His son was upset the day of the reported assault, Church recalled.

Church said he wonders if this is the first incident or if his son may have been assaulted previously.

The father says he’s happy with the response from the school system and law enforcement, but he believes the bus driver should never be allowed to drive a bus again.

“She deserves to be fired,” Church said.

School spokeswoman Rita Foil said all buses in the district are equipped with cameras that record both sound and images.

Foil said the footage is recorded on a loop and is recorded over after about three to four weeks. However, if there is a particular incident in question, the footage is saved.

The videos, Foil said, are not regularly viewed by school administrators unless there is a question about something.

Church said from now on, he’ll take his son to school.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.