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Tumwater school bus driver under investigation for treatment of special needs student

Monica Cornell said her 5-year-old son, Ryen, was aggressively grabbed and tossed off a school bus by the driver Feb. 24.
Monica Cornell said her 5-year-old son, Ryen, was aggressively grabbed and tossed off a school bus by the driver Feb. 24. COURTESY

The Tumwater School District is investigating a complaint about a school bus driver accused of mistreating a special needs student.

The mother of 5-year-old Ryen Cornell said her son was getting off a school bus to go to daycare when the driver “aggressively” grabbed the boy and tossed him to the daycare worker.

“I’m angry and I want answers,” Monica Cornell told Komo News, noting that Ryen has mild autism.

An employee at the Scribbles and Giggles Learning Center at 214 Tumwater Blvd. declined to comment for this story.

The school district issued a statement in response to the allegations and confirmed that the student was not physically injured during the alleged incident. Statements from daycare witnesses “indicate possible inappropriate behavior by the driver,” who has been placed on administrative leave.

School district spokesperson Laurie Wiedenmeyer said the mother had reported the incident in a voicemail Friday afternoon, but the message was not received by the district’s transportation supervisor until Monday. The district placed the bus driver on administrative leave Tuesday after receiving written statements from witnesses at the daycare.

According to the district, there is video footage from the bus, but about 50 minutes of footage is missing because of an equipment failure that caused the cameras to stop recording before the incident at the daycare.

“We worked with the recording equipment company to see if they could determine if any additional footage exists and were told there is not,” according to a district media statement.

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