198 9 LINKEDIN 1 COMMENTMORE

UPDATE:

James Lambert, the school bus assistant who was seen on surveillance video slapping a special needs student, has resigned.

READ:James Lambert's letter of resignation (PDF)

"I am resigning my position for personal reasons, effective June 3, 2014," Lambert said in his letter of resignation.

The Pasco County School Board was expected to vote on suspending or firing Lambert in an upcoming board meeting. Lambert is currently charged with with two felony counts of child abuse.

Earlier Report:

Port Richey, Florida -- James Lambert, 57, is a Pasco County bus assistant who's accused of repeatedly hitting a 10-year-old special needs student who was yelling profanities.

A spokesperson for the Pasco County School district says parents have complained about the outbursts, which at times included racial slurs. It's behavior his mother and school district officials say he can't control.

Linda Cobbe, a spokeswoman for the Pasco County School District, says that doesn't excuse Lambert's behavior in any way. "What he did was clearly unacceptable."

The incident was caught on surveillance video, as many of the 400 school buses in Pasco County have digital cameras. However, some buses though still have cameras that record images to VHS tapes that pop out of the deck when they're full.

While Lambert has been helping special needs children on buses in the district since 1998, his job is now on the line. Cobbe says the superintendent may recommend he be suspended and school board members could vote on the issue as early as June 17. The district plans to terminate Lambert too.

Meanwhile, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office has charged Lambert with two felony counts of child abuse.

Parents complained about child slapped on bus saying he often yelled profanities and racial slurs. WTSP

Cobbe says over the years Lambert has received specialized training on how to manage students like Jeffrey.

10 News spoke with an expert on autism. Jamie Granatino is a the clinical director at Behavioral Consulting of Tampa Bay. She's a behavioral analyst who says parents have to make sure children with special needs receive consistent quality care across the board from home to school, and everywhere in between.

Jeffrey is not one of her patients, but she says his behavior can likely be redirected and improved.

"Some children may exhibit a certain behavior in order to gain attention."

She says it's important to figure out why they're behaving a certain way and address it. Reward the behavior you want to see more of until the child understands what's acceptable and what's not in the community.

"If you were having a babysitter coming over to babysit your child, you would want them to know, 'OK, these are the procedures with this child, this is the structure, these are the rules, these are the expectations.' "

If school bus driver Dianna Harvey heard or saw the abuse and failed to report it, she could also face felony charges.

"Her actions are under review, but it appears based on GPS data and the video that she was in situations that required her attention to be on the road when he was striking the child. In one instance, she was at in an intersection," Cobbe says.

According to deputies, the child was restrained in a harness, which means he did not pose any threat to anyone on the school bus.

"To find out this man went to the back of the bus and committed this crime is appalling," said Pasco County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Melanie Snow. "It's appalling to the sheriff's office; it's appalling to me as a mother, and I am sure to many other parents out there."

MORE: Mom wants answers after bus aide slaps son

The boy was attending Moon Lake Elementary School, which is currently out for the summer.

There are three camera angles from the school bus. One angle shows the victim's mother getting on the bus to hug the bus driver and thank the aide right after the alleged abuse, which happened on the last day of school.

198 9 LINKEDIN 1 COMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.wtsp.com/1hBB7GM