Bus monitor accused of assaulting non-verbal Autistic student

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- A mother who noticed bruises and scratches on her son, sparked the investigation that eventually led to the arrest of a Monroe Transportation school bus monitor.

Schugita Thomas, 36 of Rochester, is charged with harassment, unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child. 

Monroe County sheriff's deputies say she got into a physical altercation with a non-verbal student at the Monroe County BOCES in Perinton while the bus was stopped. 

A Rochester City School District employee who took the complaint from the mom says she reviewed video of what happened and felt Thomas' actions were excessive and unwarranted. The district says the bus driver was also disqualified for working further for the district because she did not intervene.   

The child's mother says her son is autistic. She was told video shows Thomas playing on her cell phone when it all started. According to court paperwork, her son touched Thomas' hand and that's when Thomas pushed him against the window aggressively and pinned his arm behind his back. Mom thinks her son just wanted to play with the phone.

"People with autism are not so different than people who don't have autism," said Rachel Rosner, AutismUp director of education and support services. "At the core of what people with autism need is simple respect and understanding and I feel really strongly that with proper training and the mindset of respect and understanding incidents like this wouldn't have to happen."

"She ended up pressing the kid, poor kid, up against the wall and window of the bus to try and control him, going against all of the protocols that they have for the company she works for," said Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn (R).

Monroe Transportation says Thomas has been fired.

She is due back in court later this month.

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