Bus driver slapping child points to dysfunction in school district

June 12, 2014


The Cottons son told them that his school driver had hit him. When they appealed to the Escambia County Public School District for help, the parents were told they had to talk with Superintendent Malcolm Thomas, but the superintendent would not return their call.

Their son, a nine-year-old special needs student at Holms Elementary, had been having troubling for weeks with the driver of his school bus, Pamela Hardy. Video from the bus showed Hardy striking their son without any provocation. Cottons told the Independent News that Hardy had been harassing her son for quite some time, even driving him once to the county jail and telling the boy to get off the bus.

When Thomas wouldn’t return their call, the Cottons took the matter to the Pensacola Police Department. The police arrested Hardy this week and charged her with child cruelty without great bodily harm.

The questions are: Why didn’t the school district report this to law enforcement? Shouldn’t the parents have received an apology from the school district?

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  • Ames June 17, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Jeff McKenzie, it appears that the incidents involving your son occurred just a little over a year ago. Get a doggone good lawyer. That is clearly your only option.

    County residents might consider a petition to get an ordinance on the ballot in November that would prohibit local government employees who are put on suspension from receiving their pay while suspended and under investigation. There is no disincentive to not being suspended. Accountability in the workplace is not even an expectation. And let’s just go ahead and put reflective tape across the roads to warn drivers when they are crossing into Pensacola city limits.

  • Mary Ann June 17, 2014 at 11:38 am

    I am hopeful that the new principal at Warrington Middle will get that school in shape and not a principal that coddles the students and doe not back the teachers. Start suspending the trouble makers and let the students their that want to learn have a great classroom where the teacher can engage and teach them instead of dealing with the hood rats disrupting the class because they can’t read on a middle school level so disruption builds their gangster self-esteem and they are future drop-outs anyway. One cannot teach someone who does not want to learn. It is a 2 way street.

  • R McKenzie June 14, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    At Ames: To answer your question, “Who knows how much BS residents will put up with?” It is unknown, because there is NO accountability. No one is “policing the police”. It is the “good old boy mentality” and they closely watch each other’s back! And have no intention of doing the right thing or even a smidge of integrity.
    We were tenacious in pursuing justice for our son(and for others who had come to us with their stories of abuse from the same assistant coach and the willful negligence of the Athletic Director/Head Coach). Cases that had been reported at the coaches level and some to the principal at the school level. We brought this with our incident as well, to everyone we spoke to at the district to push it out of the bubble of just the school. The school district has their own “investigator” who in our case, never, ever interviewed the victim. We have ALL of the reports from the ridiculous, so called investigation, including records of the phone calls and emails. We cited proper procedure verbatim to Norm Ross, Malcolm Thomas, Carolyn Spooner, Principal and Vice Principal of the high school and the Athletic Director. They never interviewed our son. Just closed the case. Regardless of facts and willfully, to Mr. Thomas’ knowledge, not following District PROCEDURES written by Malcolm Thomas himself as stated in the Employee handbook/Student’s rights and responsibilities handbook.
    Parents need to share their experiences and put these things out in the open. Let the taxpayers decide!

  • jeeperman June 13, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I will answer your questions:
    “Why didn’t the school district report this to law enforcement?
    Because the school district views itself as it’s own kingdom with it’s own rules.

    “Shouldn’t the parents have received an apology from the school district?”

    They won’t get one from Mr. Thomas. He is too arrogant.

  • observer June 13, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Just shows that we need an appointed superintendent, not an elected one. An appointed superintendent is able to be fired much more easily. In addition, we would have a qualified superintendent rather than one that hasn’t even been a principal or assistant principal.

  • Elisa Carnley June 13, 2014 at 10:14 am

    This has disturbed me to the fullest. I also drive for escambia county ese and love what I do. Cant imagine mistreating one of these kids. Some are very difficult to handel but my aide and i always find a way to communicate with these kids.

  • IssacG June 13, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Rick keep digging! There is so much to be found.

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