ROCKLIN (CBS13) — A federal lawsuit has been filed against the Rocklin Unified School District, amid allegations of abuse of a disabled student.
A mother, who says her teenage son was abused by his bus driver, filed the lawsuit Friday against the district and the Placer County Office of Education.
The boy’s mom says she watched surveillance video from inside the bus and witnessed her son being abused by a person she trusts to take care of him every single day.
It all started when a teacher at Del Oro High School noticed a large bruise on Sullivan Wagnon’s leg.
Alicia Wagnon, Sullivan’s mother, said “I was very concerned. To me, it was very obvious that it was inflicted by another individual. It was not accidental.”
Wagnon says she had noticed a change in her son’s behavior ever since he began riding the bus to and from school that year, so she went to the district and requested to watch the surveillance video from inside the bus. She says what she witnessed was disturbing.
“He would demean them, belittle them, tell them to shut up. He’d get right up on them knowing that my son is strapped in the seat and can’t get up.”
Wagnon says on one occasion the driver- identified in the lawsuit as David Hawkins- even shoved Sullivan into the back of his seat. She also says it seemed clear he was singling out her son and another student- the two children on the bus who are non-verbal and can’t communicate.
“He exploited their disabilities because he knows they can’t tell anybody.”
Wagnon is now suing Rocklin Unified and the Placer County Board of Education for failing to protect her son. The district released a statement Friday saying in part, “Immediately upon receiving the complaint in October, district officials acted promptly and investigated the incident and disagree with the allegations being made.”
Wagnon’s attorney says the abuse is undeniable.
Attorney Allison Hyatt said, “I guarantee that if this was a non-disabled student in the videos, there would have been a different response from the district. I have no doubt about it.”
Wagnon also says she wants to watch all of the videos from every camera angle for the entire school year, but the district has refused to let her do so. She now hopes this lawsuit will bring some change and better training for all staff dealing with special needs students.