Officials call for better training, cameras on buses - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Officials call for better training, cameras on buses

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A Rhode Island lawmaker is spearheading a bill that would require national background checks on all school bus personnel.

"When it comes to school safety and the safety of our children you have to make sure there's no stone left unturned," said state Rep. Antonio Giarrusso, R-East Greenwich.

NBC 10 reports background checks are required for all school employees, but not school bus drivers and monitors.

The family of Arizona Jacobowitz told NBC 10 their 13-year-old autistic son was assaulted by his First Student bus driver on their way home from his special education school in Coventry on Oct. 7.

Jacobowitz's parents took him to Hasbro Children's Hospital where doctors said the teenager had broken blood vessels in his face and suffered multiple contusions.

Jacobowitz's parents said their son could not verbalize what exactly had happened to him.

Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association, says non-verbal children are at most risk because they cannot adequately verbalize their feelings.

Fournier said she was in favor of background checks and added that bus personnel should be trained to work with special education students and that video cameras should be installed on all buses.

Fournier also said it's important for bus personnel to recognize behavioral cues in children so a potentially volatile situation can be avoided.

"If something doesn't feel right to you as a parent follow your gut and investigate, because you're probably right," Fournier said.

A representative from First Student told NBC 10 that it's not the policy of First Student to comment on active investigations.

The Rhode Island Attorney General's Office confirmed to NBC 10 that state police are leading an investigation.

The Jacobowitzes said they have also retained an attorney.

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