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New charges filed against Littleton bus aide, revealing more incidents of alleged abuse to nonverbal students

Prosecutors filed additional charges this week against a former Littleton Public Schools bus aide accused of beating two nonverbal students, revealing more incidents of alleged abuse on their way to and from school.

Kiarra Jones, 29, now faces nine counts of third-degree assault, a felony, and two counts of knowingly and reckless child abuse, a misdemeanor, according to court documents filed in the 18th Judicial District Court. Jones is scheduled to appear in court Friday afternoon.

The alleged abuse began in January and continued for nearly three months, before a police officer reviewed footage from an on-bus camera showing Jones assaulting two boys on bus rides to and from The Joshua School, a school for kids ages 3 through 21 with developmental disabilities, court documents stated.

The students, whose autism is so severe they cannot speak, could not tell their families what was happening.

Jones was arrested and charged with one count of third-degree assault April 4, and the additional charges were filed by prosecutors Wednesday.

Families of the boys are calling for more accountability and demanding a deeper review of Jones’ actions, their attorneys said. Their parents contacted the school after they noticed a shift in their children’s behavior after coming home from school and unexplained injuries, including scratches, a missing tooth, a broken toe, a black eye and bruises on their bodies and feet.

The boys, who rely on caretakers to provide for their basic needs, were crying, breathing heavily and trying to unbuckle themselves as Jones hit them, according to a report from a police officer who reviewed footage from an on-bus camera.

Police said during her seven months as a bus aide, Jones physically abused at least two students, citing incidents when she hit them, pulled their hair and punched them in the stomach, face and back.

Officials with the Littleton Public Schools District previously said Jones was fired March 19, the same day as a parent reported injuries to their child after being brought home from The Joshua School. Jones was hired in August 2023 after “satisfactory reference checks” and a thorough background check, Todd Lambert, superintendent of the district, told families in an email last month.

A district spokesperson did not answer The Colorado Sun’s questions Friday, including whether the district believes more students were harmed or if the district has made any changes to hiring protocols or review procedures since Jones’ arrest.

Allegations against Jones mark the latest in recent years involving bus aides reportedly abusing children with disabilities. Last May, a Larimer County paraprofessional with a history of child abuse was accused of punching 11 autistic kids on a Poudre School District bus. A judge sentenced Tyler Zanella last month to 12½ years of confinement, including 10 ½ in state prison.

In 2017, a bus assistant in Boulder was convicted of abusing a disabled student on a school bus by kicking, slapping and spraying Lysol in his face for at least seven days. Monica Burke was sentenced to 20 months in jail and her former employer, St. Vrain Valley School District, was ordered to pay nearly $4 million to the student and his family, The Denver Post reported.

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