Local school bus driver accused of hitting student with special needs

A local school bus driver is accused of hitting a student with special needs.

11 News was in court today and found out there is surveillance video that captured the whole encounter on the school bus.

That will be a key piece of evidence that is played during the bus driver’s next court date.

School bus driver Barbara Garland was too distraught to speak to us at her court date, but her fiance wanted to stick up for her.

“I’ve known her 40 years there’s no way she’s going to slap anybody,” Garland’s fiance said. “I think it’s a bunch of crap.”

Back in September, Jefferson Hills police got a ChildLine tip about Garland slapping a young child with special needs as she was trying to tighten his harness straps.

The bus’s surveillance system captured it on video and detectives say you can hear the child scream “ow,” and Garland respond “you’re darn right, ow.”

Then the boy continues to scream and cry.

Garland’s defense attorney, Blaine Jones, told us he has yet to see the video, but thinks it could help his client.

“A lot of the times, people will say different things. But the video says it all in my opinion, so I’m looking forward to see the video,” Jones said.

He also told us the victim’s family had a civil attorney with them for today’s hearing, which was postponed.

“It does make you pause when you come to court and the other side has a civil attorney,” Jones explained. “Civil attorneys aren’t here to just hang out, they’re usually here because they’re looking for something.”

Garland’s fiance said he thinks the entire case needs to be dropped.

“It’s emotionally hard for her,” he said. “I really thought this was going to be a case that magistrate would throw out and maybe reduce it. I can’t believe it’s gone this far.”

Court documents say in her police interview, the bus driver told investigators that she has never been trained to handle kids with special needs.

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