Video shows alleged school bus assault of autistic boy

By Brandi Cummings - bio | email

SUMTER, SC (WIS) - A mother in Sumter is suing a school district after her autistic son was attacked on a school bus by a district employee, and we are taking a look at the surveillance video from the school bus for the first time.

We talked to the boy's mother last week. She is suing Sumter County School District Two and a bus aide for negligence.

The video doesn't show much, but Sumter County deputies say it's all they needed to see. "I think the video was very important," said Lt. Joe Lane. "Being on a bus and accusation being made of course. It was caught on video. The video shows and explains it all. It explains the incident."

Lieutenant Joe Lane says this school bus surveillance video shows bus aide James Porter and a student, Malcolm, on March 18, 2009. That's the same day Malcolm's mother, Melodee Kinyon-Davis, filed a police report and called the school district saying Malcolm had a scratch on his neck.

"The suspect took the child and placed his hand on his neck and pushed him down," said Lane. "That is considered assault."

The video is what deputies used to build their case, arresting James Porter on June 9 of this year. We went to Porter's home to get a comment for our story. Another man told me Porter was at work, but not for Sumter County School District 2.
According to the district Superintendent Dr. Frank Baker, James Porter was no longer with the district as of March 19, the day after Mrs. Davis made her complaint. We showed the video to her attorney, Tommy Geddings, who watched it for the first time. "I'm shocked," he said.

Geddings filed this negligence lawsuit against Sumter County District 2 and James Porter on Friday. Superintendent Baker says as of Wednesday, he has yet to receive it. "We ask that the court ensure that this won't happen again," said Geddings.

The superintendent says bus aides must have a clean driving record, a commercial drivers' license and pass a SLED background check, and a physical. Those working with special needs students have to have extra training.

James Porter faces up to 10 years in prison for the assault charge.

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