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Parents Of Children Allegedly Assaulted On A Whitehall School Bus Call For Action

The Whitehall School Board has officially accepted the resignation of a school bus driver caught on camera appearing to assault two children.

The Whitehall School Board has officially accepted the resignation of a school bus driver caught on camera appearing to assault two children.  But that news wasn't enough to satisfy the children's parents, who were also in attendance.

School bus driver Christopher Litostansky submitted his resignation Wednesday, nearly a month after being suspended for an incident aboard a bus, in which he appears to tie up the legs of an 11-year-old boy and shove a six-year-old girl into the sidewall of the vehicle, later prodding her with an umbrella several times. 

The two children's mothers attended the Whitehall City Schools board meeting Thursday night.

Laura Brooks – parent of the six-year-old on the video – asked the Board Thursday night what new protocols will be put in place to make sure similar incidents will not happen again.

There was no detailed answer Thursday night, but the Board issued a press release saying, in part, "When we became aware of the incident we took immediate action."  Brooks says that contrasts with the response she got from a bus director a full day after the incident.

“(The school board) found probable cause to suspend this man yesterday afternoon after speaking with him, but (they) have not watched the bus video?” Brooks wonders.

Brooks and Toral Knight – mother of the 11-year-old - say they plan to sue both district and driver.  Knight, who says her son is autistic and doesn't verbalize, says she wonders how long the abuse had gone on before October 13th, and how much longer it might have if not for Brooks' daughter speaking up.  "I thank God for that little girl because she put a stop to this madness."

Both are pushing for a bill that would require student aides aboard buses transporting special needs kids.  They also want mandatory proactive review of bus surveillance video, even if just spot checks.  "Because of budget cuts and money, it may not be possible to watch every single bus footage of every single day, but you could watch some of them,” adds Brooks.

The moms say their kids' lingering effects collectively include migraine headaches and post-traumatic stress, the long-term effects of which are hard to measure.  They say the terms of their lawsuits aren't finalized.

Student safety and security is the highest priority in our district.  We have a passion and obligation to protect our children.  We are very proud of the job our bus drivers do on a daily basis. They are well trained, caring and conscientious individuals.  This isolated incident is not indicative of the conduct and behavior of our bus drivers or any other employee of Whitehall City Schools.

Full statement from Whitehall City Schools:

When we became aware of the incident we took immediate action by placing the driver on administrative leave and began our investigation.  We carefully reviewed bus video recording and conducted an interview with the driver.  As a result of our investigation, we concluded that the driver showed very poor judgment, and for that we have apologized to the families.  After a due process hearing, we requested and received his resignation.

We would ask the public to understand the privacy laws regarding student information are very strict, and we are very committed to protecting student information.  For this reason, we are very limited in what we can disseminate to the public concerning student-related incidents.  This can lead to speculation, rumor, and misleading information.  In the present situation, we have heard a number of statements about this incident which are totally unsupported by the evidence available to us.

Because we are under the threat of litigation and because there is an individual facing serious criminal charges it would be inappropriate for us to comment further on these pending legal proceedings.  At this point in time, we need to let the processes that exist work and respect all the rights of the individuals involved.  It is our intent to fully cooperate and participate in those processes.