Wake bus driver accused of slapping kindergartner
Posted November 9, 2010 5:29 p.m. EST
Updated November 10, 2010 11:35 a.m. EST
Wendell, N.C. — A school bus driver for the Wake County Public School System was suspended Monday after claims that he slapped a special-needs kindergarten student last Friday.
Mark Tourscher says his 5-year-old son, Cory, and another special-needs child were playing on the bus from Wendell Elementary School Friday afternoon when his son threw applesauce at the other boy.
Tourscher says the driver pulled over on the side of the road, got out of the driver’s seat and slapped his son across the face.
“His whole face was just beet red,” Tourscher said. “I asked him what happened, and he burst out crying, saying that the bus driver hit him.”
He took photos of his son’s face, called 911, and operators referred him to the Wake County Sheriff’s Office.
“I was shocked,” Tourscher said. “I've never before heard of a bus driver hitting a child.”
The driver, Ashkenaz Gill, 38, has been suspended with pay, pending the results of internal and criminal investigations, Michael Evans, a spokesman for the school system, said.
“When anything like this happens, we take it very seriously, and we're going to move very quickly on it,” Evans said. “The allegations are disturbing, if nothing else, and we don’t want the bus drivers being portrayed negatively, because there’s a lot of great people out there doing a very difficult job.”
Gill denied the claim Tuesday evening, saying he has two children with special needs and would never hit a child.
He said he never saw any food being thrown and asked the boy to get back in his seat. He didn’t notice any injuries when dropped Cory off, he said.
"I never got a problem with the kids. You can ask my supervisor. You can ask the kids,” Gill said. “I love the kids. I play with them. I talk with them. I don't know how this happened.”
Tourscher said he believes his son.
“I absolutely think he needs to be terminated and criminal charges pursued,” Tourscher said. “There's no excuse for it. There's none. (Cory’s) 5.”
Cory has dyspraxia, a neurological condition that affects speech and motor skills, his father says, and his capacity to understand and learn is that of a 3-year-old.