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March 1, 2013

Police: Bus monitor hit N.Y. boy with buckle

ONEONTA, N.Y. — A bus monitor accused of using a seat-belt buckle to hit a 5-year-old boy on an Oneonta, N.Y., school bus was arrested Thursday and has been fired from her job, city police said.

The boy wasn’t treated for any injuries, but he did have a bloody nose after a fight with another boy that had been instigated by the bus monitor, whose responsibilities include overseeing pupil behavior, police said.

Heather J. Ferris, 27, of Schenevus, N.Y., was charged Thursday with second-degree attempted assault, a felony, and with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, police said. Ferris was released to the custody of her parents.

Lt. Douglas Brenner said the investigation continues to determine if Ferris was involved in other such incidents involving children. He didn’t know how long Ferris had worked for Birnie Bus Service Inc.

Brenner said the incident with the boy happened on the bus ride to school at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. The principal at Riverside Elementary School, Melinda Murdock, reported it to the boy’s family, Brenner said, and the boy’s mother filed a complaint at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

On Thursday, the bus company provided police with a video and audio recording made on the bus, Brenner said.

“The video is disturbing,” Brenner said. Ferris’ words as well as actions using the buckle to hit the boy on his body and face were recorded, he said, and she is accused of instigating and promoting a fight between the 5-year-old and another boy.

David Rowley, interim superintendent of the Oneonta City School District, said the district contracts with Birnie Bus to provide transportation for students. The bus company immediately reported the incident to the school district, Rowley said, and the boy’s family was contacted immediately.

Ferris already had been removed from her position by the time the school district requested such action, Rowley said, and the district has cooperated with the police and that department’s investigation.

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