Discuss as:

The real story behind the school bus driver who sent 1,000 texts while driving

April is Autism Action month. Kim Stagliano thought her autistic daughter was safe on the school bus -- until  she checked the bus surveillance video. She reminds us how fragile autistic children are and how it's our job as parents -- and the community -- to protect them.

Kim Stagliano

Kim Stagliano is managing editor of Age of Autism and the author of "All I Can Handle; I'm No Mother Teresa"

Last Spring our family entered the world of crimes, felonies and misdemeanors. Our youngest of three girls with autism came home from school with a badly sprained hand. She presented with an ugly, swollen black and blue bruise in the middle of her palm. And she was getting off the school bus sobbing hysterically.

Dear God….

Long story short (this is a blog, not War and Peace) we examined the special ed school bus tapes and found that the 24 year old bus monitor charged with safety was interacting with Bella, and Bella was crying out in pain. The police and state of Connecticut took over from there. I wrote about how our family felt in the Huffington Post . That case closed this month with a guilty plea to a reckless endangerment charge. 

However, it got WORSE for everyone riding that school bus. You see, while the detective was viewing the bus tapes, he noticed that the driver (who was the mother of the bus monitor) was sending text messages non-stop. So many text messages -- over 1,000 in a month of tapes -- that she was arrested for risk of injury to a minor and reckless endangerment.  The arrest made the national news.

The driver applied for accelerated rehabilitation in a first-time offender program that would clear her record within two years. Aghast, I launched a petition to ask the judge to please deny the “accelerated rehabilitation” program to the driver. We garnered 1,099 signatures.

Earlier this month, she faced the judge. And he granted her the accelerated rehabilitation, despite the heartfelt pleas of several parents whose special needs kids rode the bus.

I didn’t bring the charges against her. In fact, I never saw her texting, that’s how good she was at it. The police made the decision without my knowledge. She drove my daughter for two years and was a pleasant, friendly woman. I liked her. I liked her daughter, the bus monitor, until I saw her hurt my child.

This is Autism Action Month. I hope our story helps others understand how fragile our children are. It takes a village -- a vigilant cop helps -- and all of us, to speak out and protect those who cannot speak for themselves.

Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her book from Skyhorse Publishing"All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa" is available now. Visit her website at www.kimstagliano.com.