Juliet Pratt Upper Darby school bus driver duct tapes ‘problem’ boy with Down syndrome to his seat to prevent him from kicking other students.
Upper Darby school bus driver Juliet Pratt, 54, admitted to the District Attorney’s office that this was not the first time she duct-taped the special needs student to his seat, CBS News Philadelphia reported.
Pratt, 64, of Clifton Heights, was arrested and charged with unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, endangering the welfare of a child and assault.
Police were called to Hillcrest Elementary School on March 8 following reports that a school bus driver assaulted a 10-year-old boy.
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said that the student, who has Down syndrome, was already sitting in a district-supplied safety harness when Pratt began putting duct tape on him.
According to Stollsteimer, the child was not acting out or causing any issues that would require the bus driver to react to him.
‘Bus drivers are entrusted with enormous responsibility every time they get behind the wheel. In addition to being safe drivers, we also expect them to treat the children in their care with dignity and respect,’ Stollsteimer said. ‘Using duct tape on a child who was already fully restrained in the vehicle’s harness was not only inexcusable, it was also dangerous. Had an accident occurred, this child would have been unable to free himself from the tape. There is simply no excuse for this conduct, which is why these charges have been filed.’
After arriving at Hillcrest Elementary School, Pratt used a seat belt cutter to remove the tape from the child and threw it in the trash.
An attorney representing Pratt told NBC10 her actions were not malicious and that his client was trying to restrain the boy from excessively kicking the bus and other students. The attorney also said his client admitted to police she duct taped the boy once before to prevent him from kicking.