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Littleton Public Schools might change bus safety rules after video shows aide abusing children

LITTLETON, Colo. — Nearly a month after a bus aide was seen on video hitting a student with special needs, school board documents show rules might change when it comes to retention of video and how often that video is reviewed by Littleton Public Schools officials.

The proposed changes come nearly a month after Kiarra Jones, 29, was arrested for hitting a 10-year-old nonverbal student on a bus. After investigators reviewed additional bus footage, prosecutors filed 11 felony charges against Jones for child abuse and at-risk assault.

Some of the proposed changes to bus safety rules would increase video retention time from five days to 10 days and require random audits of footage by the district’s security team. The proposed rules are found in school board records set to be reviewed and discussed at a board meeting this Thursday.

“Audits will be conducted on a randomized schedule and will prioritize buses that transport students with complex communication or development needs who don’t yet have reliable and consistent ways to report safety concerns,” one of the proposed rule changes reads.

Parents of the alleged victims have criticized the school district for failing to adequately review bus footage after months of complaints about unexplained injuries to their children.

Attorneys for parents of the children who have been identified as victims released video of the abuse on April 9.

Qusair Mohamedbhai, an attorney who represents three of the families, said the proposed rule changes are not enough.

“Littleton Public Schools needs to stop the crisis communication propaganda and instead meaningfully engage with the actual experts in the disability and law enforcement communities in order to prevent future incidents from occurring again,” Mohamedbhai said. “Months and months of additional horrific abuse occurred to these disabled students after multiple credible complaints were brought forward by parents. LPS made no reports to law enforcement. Instead, the district not surprisingly exonerated itself after conducting almost no investigation and thereafter did nothing to help the students. Any school district interested in protecting students rather than itself would retain school bus videos more than ten days, especially for non-verbal students.”

A Littleton Public Schools letter to families and staff said the changes show the district’s commitment to being a “state leader in student transportation safety.”

“Please know that we remain heartsick about what has happened on one of our buses,” says the letter from Superintendent Todd Lambert. “There are no words to express the pain and uncertainty some of our families are feeling. They have come to us and asked us to do something. They want to trust that their children will be safe, and they expect us to take meaningful action; that is what we are doing.”

The letter says that even though policy changes require two readings by the board before they are implemented, district staff already has begun work to conduct the reviews of bus video footage pending expected approval of the changes at the May 22 meeting.

According to court documents, investigators believe Jones abused at least two children on the bus between January and March.

“It happened over months. There was a video in the bus, and it still happened. Over months. The family reached out to the school, and it still continued to happen over months,” said attorney Edward C. Hopkins Jr. on the day of the news conference.

As of this publication, Jones remains free on bond pending her criminal case.

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