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Bus driver charged with slapping 6-year-old student resigns from city council

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SEATAC, Wash. (AP) — A former Washington state judge who, until recently, drove a school bus resigned from her position as a Des Moines City Councilwoman after being charged with slapping a 6-year-old special needs student.

A criminal complaint filed in SeaTac Municipal Court charges 62-year-old Jeanette Burragem, a bus driver with the Highline School District, with fourth-degree assault. Burrage is a former state lawmaker and King County Superior Court judge, who worked as a councilmember.

She resigned from her position with the city Wednesday in a letter to the mayor and city council members.

"It is with a heavy heart that I resign my position as a Des Moines City Council member," she said in a text. "The City Council has important work to do and I anticipate the only way I can minimize the distraction to the City Council, caused by the recent school bus incident, is to resign effective immediately."

King County Sheriff's Sgt. B.J. Myers said that when police responded to a call about a disturbance on the bus March 10, there was no indication an assault had occurred. But when school district officials reviewed surveillance footage from the bus, they saw the driver slap the child, who was standing on a seat.

The incident was reported to SeaTac Police Department on March 18 by school district employees who viewed the bus surveillance video from the afternoon routes on March 10, the King County Sheriff's Office said.

District officials immediately contacted SeaTac police.  The King County Sheriff’s Office Special Assault Unit worked with Seatac police.

Police have been told Burrage has been driving buses for Highline Transportation since 2011. A school district spokesperson says the district has begun the termination process.

The mother of the alleged victim is very upset about what happened to her child. Elizabeth Lyshol says she watched the tape and saw the bus driver hit her son.

"It was really hard to see that happen, " Lyshol says. "It hurts my heart. I was confused."

Lyshol says her son needs to have a daily routine and that routine was disrupted when her child has to ride the bus home. That's why he got so upset but a spokesperson for the school district says that is no excuse.

"There`s never, ever any circumstance where it`s acceptable for a staff member to strike a student," Highline School District official Catherine Carbone Rogers said.

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6 comments

  • Elaine Debolt

    well baldone01 i hope you are not a parent of a special needs child because sometimes things happen and if a child hits and you hit back it teaches them that hitting and fighting is ok. that wouldnt be appropriate parenting to walk around and smack a child every time they strike out. you have no clue what her parenting is and it is never ok to hit a child in the face. did you think she was going to say oh ya and by the way i disciplined him for striking out would that have made you feel better.

    • baldone01

      So what should have been the appropriate response? Just let the kid hit you & tell them no? That doesn’t even work for a “normal” child. BTW, it’s not “appropriate parenting” to allow your child to strike anybody without being disciplined either. That would teach them that their “hitting & fighting” is OK. TBH, if I was the bus driver, I would have stopped the bus & called the school/authorities & had the little “special needs child” removed from the bus. The world shouldn’t have to stop because some little kid, normal or special needs, throws a temper tantrum.

  • LAW

    The point is school staff is not the student’s parents and do not have the right to physically discipline a child regardless of being normal or special needs and that is why they have very specific protocols about it. These are rules all staff members have to follow. You lay hands on someone else’s child and I guarantee after they get done stomping a mud hole in you that you will find yourself sitting in jail over it. It is abuse and assault. Also Baldone01 you may want to do a little research on the Americans with Disabilities act. Striking a child because you are angry is an inappropriate response. there is a thing called self control and acting as an adult. This lady knows the laws and knew the consequences for her actions and she will be lucky if she only looses her job, and resignation from city council. I am sure she will be find herself with some additional time in court over it. It is the law not just school policy. Also Washington state is very specific about spanking. It is open handed on the rear end. It can not leave a bruise. This is a clear case of an adult hitting a child and the situation is irrelevant it is not her child.

  • R foster

    Did anyone else notice that the child slapped the driver in the face first? I believe that the slap back was a reflex and was not thought out by the adult. I repeat that I don’t believe the lady meant to slap the child but simply acted in reflex mode.

    • Elaine Debolt

      WOW FOSTER I AM REALLY SHOCKED THAT THERE ARE ACTUALLY PEOPLE COMMENTING THAT IT IS OK TO STRIKE A CHILD I RAISED 7 CHILDREN AND HAD PLENTY OF MOMENTS WHEN THEY DID THINGS THEY SHOULDN’T HAVE. I NOT ONCE FELT I SHOULD REACT BACK IN A CHILDISH MANNER OF SLAPPING OR HITTING THEM THAT IS CONSIDERED “CHILD ABUSE”.