A Pensacola bus driver has been charged with child cruelty after security cameras show her smacking a nine-year-old with the back of her hand.
The child – who has a learning disability and is deaf in one ear and wears a hearing aid in the other – repeatedly asks the 56-year-old driver, Pamely Hardy, for permission to use the restroom while awaiting departure from the school. On the video, Hardy is heard mocking him with crying sounds and saying if he would “shut his mouth, it would relieve the pressure.” She also tells him he should “quit whining like a child” and if he got off the bus, he wasn’t getting back on.
Later in the video the child is play fighting his brother when Hardy intervenes, saying “Quit fighting on the bus” and “You children are plumb ignorant.” The nine-year-old gestures in Hardy’s face, and that’s when she slaps him.
The student’s mother, Timisha Cotton, filed charges against Hardy after she viewed the video.
There’s also footage of Hardy taunting the student several weeks leading up to the altercation.
Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas says the incident is currently under investigation, and he declined further comment.
“Until all of the facts are presented and we’ve reviewed them all, I will refrain from making any judgments,” he says.
Thomas expects the school district to complete its investigation before school resumes in the fall; he appears to be leaning towards termination.
“My number one priority is protecting the safety of our students,” he says.