The following statement, attributed to ACLU of Mississippi Executive Director Jennifer Riley Collins, is in response to a video showing a bus driver intentionally restraining a special needs student in a dehumanizing manner by sitting on and leveraging the full weight of her body against the disabled student while taunting her.
“The ACLU of Mississippi is appalled by the conduct of the St. Martin middle school teacher and bus driver assaulting a special needs student on a school bus.
“The video, recently released by the attorney representing the student, is disturbing to say the least. However, this incident is not an isolated one, but is part of a larger issue across the state. Students with disabilities are six times as likely to be physically restrained at school compared to non-disabled students, and students of color with disabilities are twice as likely to be restrained or secluded.
“Practices, like restraint and seclusion, are a violation of students’ rights to nondiscrimination in education. Mississippi must do more to ensure protection of our children, especially our most vulnerable children, by passing legislation inclusive of proper implementation and accountability provisions that keeps our students safe.
“School environments, including the school bus, should be safe spaces, where our children are nurtured academically, emotionally, and socially. Students of any age, race, gender, and ability should be treated with respect and dignity. Students’ rights do not end at the schoolhouse doors nor are school buses constitution-free zones.”