Parents claim their 6-year-old was 'slapped' by school bus driver

Parents of a 6-year-old claim a Belleville school district bus driver slapped their child on the way home from school.

BELLEVILLE, ILL. - Update- August 24: Since our story aired, Stacy and Mic Barringer say the bus company, First Student, called them. They say company representatives told them that they have a copy of the video that was shot on that April day and will allow the couple to view it next week.

Original story- August 23: How would you feel if your child told you he'd been slapped by a school district employee?

That's what a Belleville, Illinois, couple claims happened to their 6-year-old son. But when they asked to see video of the inside of the bus, the school district told them "no."

So after weeks of getting the runaround, they called 5 On Your Side Investigates for help.

Stacy and Mic Barringer said two of their children came home from Roosevelt Elementary School last April in tears. They haven't boarded a bus since.

“One of our children was really upset, saying that the school bus driver had slapped [their son]," said Stacy Barringer.

The parents claim the bus driver was walking to the back of the vehicle to deal with noisy kids when she saw their 6-year-old holding the arm of another boy to stop the boy from throwing paper.

“The kids said she raised her arms above her head and slapped him,” said Stacy Barringer, lifting her hand above her head as she spoke.

The parents called Roosevelt Elementary School and, at first, were told what the driver did was more like a “motherly tap.”

Then, the story changed, the Barringers said.

“Then the principal saw the video and he told me ‘You're right, it was not a motherly tap, it was a slap,’” Stacy Barringer said.

But when they asked to see the video or for more information, the school refused.

“So originally they wouldn't give us the video because of privacy issues, because there were other children in the video and I asked if maybe they could just blur their faces out and they wouldn't do that,” said Barringer.

So we went to speak with Matt Klosterman, the superintendent of Bellville School District 118.

Maria Hallas: "Why not blur out their faces?"

Klosterman: “We are not going to distort the video at this point to blur out other students faces to make it available.”

So we asked him what happened on the bus.

Maria Hallas: “You can't tell us it was a heavy slap a light slap whatever because of other students on the bus?

Klosterman: “Well I wasn't there so I didn't witness it.”

Hallas: “Did you see the video?"

Klosterman: “I did see the video.”

Hallas: “What happened?”

Klosterman: “There was an interaction between the driver and the student.

Even after multiple questions, Klosterman refused to say specifically what that interaction was. He did say, as a result of that “interaction" that the driver’s routes were changed.

But Klosterman maintained it was against policy for the Barringers to see the bus video.

Hallas: “If a parent's child gets hit on the bus by a bus driver, you will not let them see that video so that they know what happened to their child, is that correct?”

Klosterman: “In this situation that video would not be made available to the parents. That's correct."

We contacted the bus company, First Student, for comment, but we have not heard back from it. We will let you know when we do.

© 2017 KSDK-TV


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