Your child’s bus driver is the person you trust to get your precious loved one to and from school safely. But, a bus driver in Collier County has been arrested after allegedly hitting a special needs student.
The suspect, Dayely Gonzalez, 37, of Naples, was taken into custody Monday and charged with Child Abuse Without Great Bodily Harm.
The deputy assigned to the case followed up on a report that said Gonzalez “had slapped/hit a 10-year-old ESE student for throwing an apple on the floor of a bus.”
On contacting the Collier County Public Schools human resources department, the deputy found that Gonzalez had been reassigned to the district offices while the case is under investigation.
On speaking with the boy’s mother, she said her son rides the special needs bus because he suffers from various conditions including aphasia, ADHD, Moyamoya disease and high blood pressure. She noted that, due to the Moyamoya, her son is unable to take ADHD medication.
The mother also related that her son had a bruise above his knee when he returned home the day of the incident.
The deputy reviewed video camera footage of the incident from the bus. He observed Gonzalez driving the bus and, while stopped in traffic, look in the rearview mirror at the students behind her.
The student is seen sitting three rows back, alone in his seat eating an apple. He then throws a small bite of the apple on the floor.
The suspect then pulls the bus over to confront the child, telling him to pick up the piece of apple and saying “Who do you think you are,” multiple times. The boy is then seen repeating that phrase back to Gonzalez, to which she responds, “I am in charge here.”
The child yells at Gonzalez and puts his hands up to block her. The suspect then slaps his hands down and an argument ensues. The child yells, “Ow, stop,” and then Gonzalez tells him to stop and slaps his hands down once more.
Gonzalez is then seen leaning over the boy grabbing him and slapping his arms and/or knees, but the deputy is not sure due to them being blocked by the seats of the bus. The suspect is seen slapping down the boy’s hands multiple times and he retaliates by kicking her in the thigh.
After some more back and forth, Gonzalez eventually picks up the boy and moves him back into his assigned seat while allegedly yelling at him, “You stop. Who do you think you are?” The boy then starts to cry and Gonzalez yells the same again, adding, “You are nobody.” The boy then screams and tries to hit Gonzalez again, this time in the arm.
At this point, Gonzalez gets on top of the boy and restrains him. The boy is then heard screaming and yelling, “You’re hurting me, you’re hurting me!” More yelling ensues and Gonzalez then returns to the driver’s seat.
The deputy notes that there was an assistant on the bus at the time to help with the students, but she never intervened. On speaking to Gonzalez, she said the assistant doesn’t speak English very well, which is why she felt the need to take the incident into her own hands.
Gonzalez told the deputy that the child started complaining as soon as he got on the bus and doesn’t listen. He was not in his assigned seat, he says bullying things to the girls on the bus, and before the incident, he hit the assistant with a seatbelt and his hand.
Gonzalez said on the day of the incident, the boy took out an apple, which the assistant told him to put away. He laughed, started chewing the apple and then spat a piece on the floor, which got Gonzalez’s attention. The suspect pulled over, grabbed the apple from his mouth and threw it away. She says she then grabbed him, put him in his assigned seat and told him to stay there.
Gonzalez told the deputy she made a mistake touching the child, but said: “it is just so difficult when you have kids who don’t respect.” She said this is the first time she’s had a problem in the two years she’s been driving special needs children.
Gonzalez has been given training on how to handle special needs children.
Her first appearance is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday.