Former bus monitor charged with assaulting autistic student

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A former Austin bus monitor was charged with assault by contact after being accused of putting tape over the mouth of a 6-year-old autistic boy. Soledad Hernandez, who was on a school bus with students from Kocurek Elementary School, was issued a citation Tuesday for the Class C misdemeanor, Austin ISD Police Chief Eric Mendez said.

Juan Fontanez, 10, was on the same bus with his brother, Jean Paul, when the alleged incident happened on Nov. 10. But he waited a week to say anything to his dad.

“I thought that I needed to tell somebody but I didn’t want to get anybody in trouble,” Juan told KXAN last month.

Juan said he saw the bus monitor get clear tape out of her purse and stick a piece over his brother’s mouth. Jean Paul pulled it off, and the monitor put it back.

“She said don’t tell your parents or anything like that,” said Juan.

He believes the bus monitor was reacting to Jean Paul repeating words which is a common learning style for children with autism.

“She said she was kind of getting tired of it or annoyed,” said Juan.

Jean Paul’s father then contacted AISD police to alert them of the incident. Hernandez has since resigned.

“No kid, any kid, deserves to be treated that way,” said Luis Fontanez. “Even if it’s a normal kid.”

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