Metro settles school bus sexual assault suit

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 12:16am

The Metro Nashville Board of Education voted Tuesday to approve a $1.2 million settlement, resolving a well-documented federal lawsuit that stemmed from a sexual assault on a special education school bus.

In the incident three years ago, a 19-year-old student allegedly coerced an autistic 9-year-old boy to perform inappropriate actions during an unmonitored bus ride.

The boy’s mother said, at the time of the May 2007 incident, that she had requested a monitor for her son but had “gotten the runaround” from the district. In 2007, Metro had bus monitors on only 35 of its 217 special education buses.

A lawsuit filed by the boy’s mother against Metro Nashville Public Schools eventually made its away to U.S. District Court.

Metro Law Director Sue Cain sent a memo Monday to school board members advising them the settlement is “in the best interests of the school system.”

“At the time, monitors were not on all special education buses and there was not a monitor on the bus involved in the lawsuit,” Cain wrote. “Given the past actions of the 19-year-old student, the Department of Law has recommended a settlement as it is the Department of Law’s opinion that a jury is likely to apportion a significant amount of the damages to the Board of Education.”

The incident with the 9-year-old and a separate incident in October 2006 that involved an 11-year-old girl put a harsh media spotlight on the district.

In the 2006 incident that was captured on an on-board bus camera, an 11-year-old autistic girl suffered “prolonged sexual battery by a fellow special needs student while riding home from school on the school bus,” according to a lawsuit filed by her father.

Mayor Karl Dean took the incidents seriously, and in early 2008 requested MNPS develop a special education student safety plan.

Today, MNPS policy requires monitors to be stationed on every school bus.

5 Comments on this post:

By: artsmart on 1/27/10 at 6:14

Guys get the facts right. There were not 35 monitors as a matter fact there were almost zero at that time. There are monitors only on special ed buses, there was another child assaulted in August. The Mayor put monitors on the buses he was not intereted in the rest of the facts. No one at Metro in a position of authority did anything and no one was fired.

By: michael thomas on 1/27/10 at 6:40

Bring in the next case please!

By: localboy on 1/27/10 at 10:58

"Guys get the facts right. There were not 35 monitors as a matter fact there were almost zero at that time. There are monitors only on special ed buses,.."
per the article
"In 2007, Metro had bus monitors on only 35 of its 217 special education buses."
Seems a straight forward statement; regardless of whether it's zero or 35, obviously they weren't covering 217.

By: sidneyames on 1/27/10 at 1:26

It's a shame that Metro has to pay to police buses. If a student misbehaves ONE time, they should be banned from the bus and let their parents drive them to school, whether they are 'able" or "disabled". Our tax dollars need to be spent on education, not monitoring behavioral issues.

By: artsmart on 1/27/10 at 8:00

I agree sidneyames the problem is that no one is held accountable for anything. In the 3 different assaults kids tried to get the bus driver to stop the assaults and the drivers did nothing. They could not even be bothered to stop the bus and look.
While there are some excellent drivers they have some that care nothing about children. This all comes from management that just doesn't give a darn and will do nothing more than they are made to do. Common sense plays absolutely no part of anything that goes on. My guess is the will violate the agreement within 6 months.