Parents of autistic girl kicked off bus sues Hillsborough school - WRBL

Parents of autistic girl kicked off bus sues Hillsborough schools

Posted: Updated:
Image taken from the video footage on the bus Image taken from the video footage on the bus
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

One year after school bus driver Stephanie Wilkerson was accused of kicking an 8-year-old autistic girl down a flight of bus stairs, the girl's parents are suing the Hillsborough County school district and School Board.

Kyinesha Johnson broke her ankle in the fall and couldn't walk for nearly two months, her parents say. In a lawsuit filed last week, Curtis and Margaret Johnson blame a lack of training and supervision of the district's special-needs employees.

Related story: Driver 'kicks' autistic child off Hillsborough Co. school bus

They list other incidents that have plagued the county's exceptional student education program, including the 2012 deaths of 7-year-old Isabella Herrera, who had a neuromuscular disorder and died after she stopped breathing on a school bus, and Jennifer Caballero, an 11-year-old with Down syndrome who wandered away from her gym class at Rodgers Middle School in Riverview and drowned in a retention pond.

"The school board and school district engaged in an ongoing pattern, practice and custom of failing to ensure the safety and well-being of ESE students," the civil complaint states.

Wilkerson's actions were "egregious" and "shock the conscience," according to the complaint. The Johnsons are seeking damages of at least $15,000.

On Sept. 28, 2012, Wilkerson urged the 8-year-old girl to get off the bus, but Kyinesha was having trouble following directions due to her disability, the suit states. She just stood in the stairwell. Her pause was captured on the bus's surveillance video, released by prosecutors in March.

The video shows Wilkerson pushed the girl, causing her to fall to the ground outside Tampa Bay Boulevard Elementary School in Tampa. At the hospital, a doctor said the girl suffered a sprained ankle.

However, a few days later, the girl complained of pain and refused to walk. A different doctor said she had fractured her ankle.

The lawsuit states that Kyinesha was unable to walk for nearly two months. She used either a wheelchair or crawled.

Wilkerson was immediately suspended, then fired. She was also charged with aggravated child abuse.

School district spokesman Stephen Hegarty declined to comment Tuesday because of the open litigation. But in the past, he has called Wilkerson's actions "completely unacceptable." Also, the district has contended it is not responsible for what it considers an "intentional act."

A school district attorney has cited a state law that says the government is not liable if an employee acts "in bad faith or with malicious purpose or in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard of human rights, safety or property."

The school district has not formally replied to the complaint.

Wilkerson's criminal trial is scheduled to begin March 24.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • TPD claims training stories fell short

    TPD claims training stories fell short

    Thursday, August 21 2014 5:12 PM EDT2014-08-21 21:12:02 GMT
    The Tampa police department is responding to an 8 On Your Side investigation into a January shooting.The police contend the reports were incomplete and contained errors.The stories focused on a January 9th police shooting in Tampa and the lack of crisis intervention team training at T.P.D.
    The Tampa police department is responding to an 8 On Your Side investigation into a January shooting.The police contend the reports were incomplete and contained errors.The stories focused on a January 9th police shooting in Tampa and the lack of crisis intervention team training at T.P.D.
  • TPD responds to story controversy surrounding police shooting

    TPD responds to story controversy surrounding police shooting

    Thursday, August 21 2014 12:48 PM EDT2014-08-21 16:48:17 GMT
    Jason TurkJason Turk
    An 8 On Your Side investigation into police shooting and the lack of Crisis Intervention Team training at the Tampa police department is not sitting well with T.P.D.Police spokesperson Laura McElroy sent an email to News Channel 8 management with the subject line labeled, "The Rest of the Story
    An 8 On Your Side investigation into police shooting and the lack of Crisis Intervention Team training at the Tampa police department is not sitting well with T.P.D.Police spokesperson Laura McElroy sent an email to News Channel 8 management with the subject line labeled, "The Rest of the Story
  • Verizon insists on seeing Town N' Country man's birth certificate for credit report error

    Verizon insists on seeing Town N' Country man's birth certificate for credit report error

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 5:26 PM EDT2014-08-20 21:26:13 GMT
    James Woolever was shocked to find a bad mark on his credit report. Especially since it was for an "outstanding balance" from a Verizon account opened in 1979. He knew that couldn't be right, because he was just 6 years old then.
    James Woolever was shocked to find a bad mark on his credit report. Especially since it was for an "outstanding balance" from a Verizon account opened in 1979. He knew that couldn't be right, because he was just 6 years old then.
  • NewsMore>>

  • TPD claims training stories fell short

    TPD claims training stories fell short

    Thursday, August 21 2014 5:12 PM EDT2014-08-21 21:12:02 GMT
    The Tampa police department is responding to an 8 On Your Side investigation into a January shooting.The police contend the reports were incomplete and contained errors.The stories focused on a January 9th police shooting in Tampa and the lack of crisis intervention team training at T.P.D.
    The Tampa police department is responding to an 8 On Your Side investigation into a January shooting.The police contend the reports were incomplete and contained errors.The stories focused on a January 9th police shooting in Tampa and the lack of crisis intervention team training at T.P.D.
  • Kyle Williams found guilty of murdering Lakeland Police officer

    Kyle Williams found guilty of murdering Lakeland Police officer

    Thursday, August 21 2014 4:42 PM EDT2014-08-21 20:42:52 GMT
    Kyle Williams, who is accused of killing a Lakeland Police officer was found guilty of murder Thursday afternoon.


    Kyle Williams, who is accused of killing a Lakeland Police officer was found guilty of murder Thursday afternoon.
  • Tampa boy, 13, brought loaded gun to school, say police

    Tampa boy, 13, brought loaded gun to school, say police

    Thursday, August 21 2014 4:20 PM EDT2014-08-21 20:20:44 GMT
    A Tampa middle school student faces a felony charge after police say he brought a loaded gun to school.
    A Tampa middle school student faces a felony charge after police say he brought a loaded gun to school.
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Haircuts for the Homeless

    Haircuts for the Homeless

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 11:38 AM EDT2014-08-20 15:38:55 GMT
    On his days off, stylist Mark Bustos gives free haircuts to the homeless of New York City. Here are some of the transformations.
    On his days off, stylist Mark Bustos gives free haircuts to the homeless of New York City. Here are some of the transformations.
  • 59 Arrested By Greenville Police In Latest Prostitution Sting

    59 Arrested By Greenville Police In Latest Prostitution Sting

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 9:30 PM EDT2014-08-20 01:30:28 GMT
    Greenville Police released information Tuesday that 59 people were arrested in a four day long prostitution sting.
    Greenville Police released information Tuesday that 59 people were arrested in a four day long prostitution sting.
  • VIDEO: Grouper snatches shark in one bite

    VIDEO: Grouper snatches shark in one bite

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 2:44 PM EDT2014-08-20 18:44:27 GMT
    Clip of video from YouTubeClip of video from YouTube
    One bite: that's all it apparently took for a grouper to eat a 4-foot shark in a video posted to YouTube, according to user Gimbb14.
    One bite: that's all it apparently took for a grouper to eat a 4-foot shark in a video posted to YouTube, according to user Gimbb14.
Powered by WorldNow

1350 13th Avenue
Columbus, GA 31901

Telephone: 706.323.3333
Fax: 706.327.6655
Email: news@wrbl.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.