SEATAC, Wash. (AP) — A former Washington state judge and current Des Moines city councilwoman who now drives a bus for the Highline School District has been accused of slapping a 6-year-old special needs student.
A criminal complaint filed in SeaTac Municipal Court charges 62-year-old Jeanette Burrage with fourth-degree assault.
Burrage is a former state lawmaker and King County Superior Court judge who currently serves on the Des Moines City Council.
She did not immediately return an email and phone message seeking comment.
King County Sheriff's Sgt. B.J. Myers said that when police responded to a call about a disturbance on the bus March 10, there was no indication an assault had occurred. But when school district officials reviewed surveillance footage from the bus, they saw the driver slap the child, who was standing on a seat.
The incident was reported to SeaTac Police Department on March 18 by school district employees who viewed the bus surveillance video from the afternoon routes on March 10, the King County Sheriff's Office said.
District officials immediately contacted SeaTac police. The King County Sheriff’s Office Special Assault Unit worked with Seatac police.
Police have been told Burrage has been driving buses for Highline Transportation since 2011. A school district spokesperson says the district has begun the termination process.
The mother of the alleged victim is very upset about what happened to her child. Elizabeth Lyshol says she watched the tape and saw the bus driver hit her son.
"It was really hard to see that happen, " Lyshol says. "It hurts my heart. I was confused."
Lyshol says her son needs to have a daily routine and that routine was disrupted when her child has to ride the bus home. That's why he got so upset but a spokesperson for the school district says that is no excuse.
"There`s never, ever any circumstance where it`s acceptable for a staff member to strike a student," Highline School District official Catherine Carbone Rogers said.