A woman who worked as a school bus monitor in Utica faces charges after police said security footage from the bus supported an 11-year-old autistic child’s claim that she punched him and slammed his head against a window Wednesday.
Kendra Owens, 38, of Kemble Street in Utica, was charged with second-degree harassment, a violation, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, Utica police said.
Owens has been terminated from employment as a monitor with Birnie Bus Service, according to a Birnie statement.
The bus was on a Utica school district route when the incident involving a district student occurred Wednesday afternoon, said Birnie Vice President of Operations Eric Taylor.
Utica police said they received a report from a woman who said her son was riding the bus when he was struck by the monitor. Police interviewed the child. He told police the bus stopped in the parking lot of Proctor High School to pick up children, and he stood up to stretch his legs when the monitor told him to sit down.
The child and monitor then began to argue, and the monitor came to the front of the bus where the child was as the argument continued. The monitor punched and slapped the child in the face, and slammed his head against a closed window, according to the account.
The child sustained scratches and was "very upset," police said. A police officer met with Birnie Bus representatives who provided security footage from the bus, which supported the child’s claim, police said.
Birnie "apologizes to the student and the family for this unfortunate situation," said the company. The monitor had been employed for about a year, and Birnie had never received a complaint or had issues with her, said the company. It said that once notified of the situation, the company contacted the Utica school district and has cooperated with the Utica police investigation.