School bus driver charged with assault of 7-year-old student with autism

Child reportedly assaulted by bus driver

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - A school bus driver has been charged with the assault of a 7-year-old student with autism in Rowan County.

According to the Salisbury Police Department, detectives spoke to a witness and reviewed the video surveillance from the bus before issuing warrants on the school bus driver, Grace Oshields King.

King was charged with misdemeanor assault on a child under 12 and assault on a handicap person. She turned herself into police Thursday and went before a Rowan County magistrate, who released her on a written promise.

The child’s father told WBTV on Wednesday that his non-verbal, autistic, 7-year-old son was assaulted at school by his school bus driver. A teacher at Overton Elementary School says she saw the assault and called police.

“The principal just told me that she had some disturbing news to tell me," said Shane Church, the boy’s father. “You could tell he (Shane’s son) was kind of upset. I was told that he was hit in the chest.”

Shane’s son couldn’t tell his father what allegedly happened.

“He is a non-verbal child, can’t tell me anything that happens with him," Church said.

Police began an investigation of the alleged incident. It was said to have happened on Friday and was reported on Monday.

“A teacher at Overton Elementary reported seeing the school bus driver strike the student," said Sgt. Travis Shulenburger of the Salisbury Police Department.

The alleged victim of the assault is doing okay, according to his father. Church is upset, saying the bus driver has driven his son for two years and he trusted her.

“You don’t know if this is the first time or not," Church said.

The father hopes he’ll get to see the video from inside the bus, but says he’s already been told what it shows.

“I’ve only been in contact with the night the officer informed me about it," Church added. "He told me that he had seen the video and that it was enough for him to press charges.”

Church says he will start taking his son to school, and he doesn’t think the bus driver should be allowed to stay on the job.

On Tuesday the Rowan-Salisbury School System acknowledged that it is cooperating with the police investigation and conducting its own internal investigation.

King has a court date on this matter set for Feb. 20, 2019.

Bus driver charged with assaulting student

Officials say to ensure a fair trial is provided to the person charged in this case, the Salisbury Police Department will make no further statements and the video will not be made available to media or others as it is part of a pending criminal trial and exempt from release as a public record.

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.