The parents of a 10-year-old special needs child claim in a civil suit that the
boy was left sleeping on a school bus in the fall of 2011, an incident that traumatized the already fragile youngster.
Erin and Greg Pardoe, who reside in Linwood, Delaware County, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on April 11 against the Chichester School District and its superintendent, Barbara DiMarino, over a Sept. 20, 2011, incident in which the plaintiffs claim their child, who has anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Autism, was left severely frightened after he woke up on his school bus to find out that he had been left alone inside the vehicle.
The child was being transported at the time from Marcus Hook Elementary School to his daycare at Chichester Kinder School, a schedule he regularly maintained.
At the time, the boy was on the bus with the driver, an aide who was there on behalf of all of the special needs children, and about 10 other students, the complaint notes.
The complaint says that during the course of the ride, the child fell asleep, and the bus ended up passing by his stop at the daycare.
After the route was complete, the suit states, the driver returned to the bus depot, closed the locked the main doors, and then exited the vehicle without checking on the boy.
The child ultimately awoke and tried to exit the bus for an extended period of time without success, the suit states.
“During this time, [the boy] was crying and screaming ‘get me out of here,’ so long and so loud that he lost his voice,” the complaint states.
After numerous attempts, the child eventually found his way off of the bus and he was located by a stranger walking outside near the bus depot, the lawsuit says.
The Good Samaritan ended up taking the boy to the school’s football coach.
The plaintiffs claim that their son was “severely traumatized” by the incident, something they blame on school district negligence.
For a period of about a year after the incident, the child would often “see” a strange man, the suit says, and he also dealt with issues of abandonment, trust and could not be left alone for any amount of time.
The child also allegedly experiences increased anxiety and nausea.
A doctor subsequently diagnosed the boy with a variety of disorders, such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
The boy, who was not taking any medication before the incident, was soon put on Zoloft and has undergone intensive therapy, according to the complaint.
The record shows that the bus driver was fired and the aide was placed on leaving following the incident.
The plaintiffs say they have incurred financial hardships relating to the treatment of their son.
The school district stands accused of failing to properly train and supervise its workers.
“Defendants are liable for the wrongful conduct of the School District’s employees, as the decision makers permitted and condoned a policy and practice of not properly training employees who were charged with the care and custody of students with disabilities and special needs,” the complaint reads.
The defendants are accused of violating the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the U.S. Constitution.
The couple seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs.
They are being represented by Media, Pa. attorney D. Scott Bonebrake.
The federal case number is 2:14-cv-02131-TON.