Child restrained on Collier County school bus, mom says

Published: Updated:
Karla Thurkettle saw this photo of her son, Parker, being restrained on a Collier County school bus. (Photo courtesy of Karla Thurkettle)

A Collier County mother is at a loss after she said her son came home with marks on his body. She said the school bus driver tied him down with a seat belt.

Karla Thurkettle wants the bus driver removed and an apology. She said the school failed to tell her what was happening.

“Infuriated that someone was able to treat my son in this fashion. He’s not a dog.”

She said that on March 30, she saw a photo of her son, Parker, taken by a fellow student. According to Thurkettle, the bus driver restrained Parker on the bus with a seat belt tightly wrapped twice around him because he had stuck his head in the aisle on another day when the bus was moving.

“My husband lifted up his shirt after we saw the picture, lifted up the shirt and you can see the indentation or the red marks from how the seatbelt was wrapped around him.”

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident. The report confirms the bus driver buckled Parker in, but says “the seatbelt was not observed to be excessively tight,” and Parker got out once they arrived at school.

Investigators didn’t feel the bus driver’s actions were criminal.

Thurkettle said she was never notified that her son was disciplined. She feels the bus driver went too far.

“I feel helpless as a parent that I can’t protect my children. I entrusted the school, and I entrusted the transportation department with my son’s safety, and I feel like that’s been violated.”

WINK News reached out to the school district to ask about the incident and the driver. Spokesperson Chad Oliver would only say they never comment on personnel matters.

The sheriff’s office said it investigated the incident as a follow-up to a Florida Department of Children & Families investigation. We’ve reached out to DCF for more information.

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