PALM BAY, Florida – A Brevard Public School teacher was arrested on Friday and charged with child abuse after she allegedly dragged an autistic student down the aisle of a school bus and then yanked the student’s arm, causing him to fall down the school bus steps and fall face first on the pavement.
According to Palm Bay police, surveillance video from the bus allegedly shows the following:
Lockmar Elementary School teacher Margaret Joyce O’Connor was asked to assist in getting the student off of the bus due to him throwing his shoes around the bus and attempting to hit other students and adults on April 30, 2019 .
O’Connor entered the bus and immediately started screaming at the student to, “Stop it!”
The teacher then leans over and starts to unbuckle the student from his seat belt harness.
After O’Connor gets the student out of his harness, she grabs both of his hands due to him still failing about, and then proceeds to drag him down the center aisle of the bus.
When the teacher and student approach the front of the bus, they pause while O’Connor yells for someone to help her instead of just watching.
Another person is seen entering the camera view but O’Connor waves this person off.
The teacher then walks down the stairs while still holding onto the student’s hand.
However, the student remained at the top of the stairs and appeared to be bracing himself to not get off the bus.
O’Connor then makes a sudden jerking motion with her body and arm and the student rapidly fell down the stairs and onto the ground as if he had been yanked by the teacher.
O’Connor then asked the student in a different tone of voice if he was O.K.
The incident was reported to the school administration who then contacted the Florida Department of Children and Families and placed O’Connor on administrative leave.
After reviewing the video, a DCF investigator called O’Connor on her phone and requested that she respond to the Palm Bay Police Department in order to provide her side of the story.
O’Connor replied that she had been told by her union attorney to not give any statements to anyone but asked what was going on.
Palm Bay police advised the teacher that there was a criminal investigation regarding the incident involving her and the autistic student.
O’Connor then told police that she and the student had both fallen of the bus and that she thought this might be what the investigation was about.
Police arrested O’Connor on Friday, May 3, 2019, on the charge of child abuse without great bodily harm.
The teacher was booked into the Brevard County Jail on a $5,000 bond where she remains in custody.