Judge James C. Clark ordered a former Alexandria City Public Schools bus monitor to pay $35,000 in damages to a student she assaulted multiple times in October of 2009.
Shawnee Keels of Oxon Hill, Md., struck and kicked the child, who has Down’s syndrome, several times while aboard the school bus, a video from the vehicle revealed. She pleaded guilty in 2010 and received a suspended sentence of one year in jail. The monetary punishment is part of a civil suit brought by the child’s family.
“I brought this suit in order to make sure that other parents would not have to discover the horror of knowing that their special needs child was being subjected to physical and emotional abuse on a school bus,” said Hayat Ramadan, the child’s mother.
Ramadan claimed several complaints to the school district went unanswered before she finally went to the police. The Alexandria School Board was sued but dismissed from the case prior to the trial under sovereign immunity. The board likely would have been liable if Keels’ acts were negligent and not deliberate, according to Benjamin Glass, Ramadan’s attorney.