Bus aide allegedly spanks special needs child

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September 21, 2006

She's accused of spanking a special needs student, and now one Columbia County bus aide is on paid administrative leave and an investigation is underway.

The mother of a five year old with Downs Syndrome is speaking out on behalf of specials needs children after learning her child may have been spanked by a school bus aide.

It's an incident that took place on a special needs bus last Friday.

The bus aide is accused of spanking a child upon arrival at River Ridge Elementary.

The child's mother doesn't want to be identified, but says she is furious.

"It is alleged that a witness that is employed at the school saw the aide on a special ed bus strike my child twice because he attempted to run away from the bus," she says.

The mother says this discipline shouldn't have happened, as her child's Downs Syndrome and limited mental retardation impair him from knowing that running down a sidewalk poses a danger.

"His communication skills are very limited," she explains. "He can express immediate needs and wants, but he cannot carry on a conversation."

According to the incident report, a witness says 41-year-old Lasonja Carlos spanked the child.

We went to Lasonja's Augusta home to get her side of the story, but our knocks went unanswered.

The Columbia County school system has placed her on paid administrative leave.

"I believe that she should be terminated from her job, and I believe charges should be on her record," the mother says.

A mother who entrusted her son to someone else now finds herself speaking out for those who don't have a voice.

"There are children who are mentally retarded that don't have a voice, so we feel it is our responsibility to speak out on behalf of all special ed children."

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office tells News 12 as soon as the report is complete it will be given to the district attorney's office to see if there is enough evidence to proceed.

Columbia County associate school superintendent Charles Nagle tells News 12 the board will determine what action, if any, they will take pending the outcome of the investigation by the sheriff's department.