An East Moline parent is speaking out after a school bus driver yelled and slapped the hands of her son, who has autism and is non-verbal.

The incident happened on the morning of March 21. The bus driver yelled at 8-year-old Zamarie Jones for stomping his feet while stimming or self-stimulating. The surveillance video captured the bus driver yelling at Zamarie to stop stimming. Then the video captured the driver walking to Zamarie, yelling in his face and slapping his hands.

Once the bus arrived at Wells Elementary School, surveillance video showed the bus driver sitting next to Zamarie, allowing the rest of the students to get off the bus. While the driver sat next to Zamarie, surveillance video captured the bus driver challenging Zamarie to do it [stim] again before finally grabbing Jones by the wrist and handing him over to school administrators.

Chynne Jones, Zamarie Jones’ mother, said the school alerted her about the incident after a student reported it. “I did not prepare myself to hear all the things that I heard, the threats that I heard,” Jones said.

After watching the tape Jones wanted to press charges, but she said it’s been difficult. “I was told there will be three investigations the school, DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services), and the police,” Jones said. “I’m still waiting for the schools. I’m still waiting for DCFS, and the officer told me that charges {would] not be brought.”

Jones said she was confused about the police department’s decision because she had surveillance video of the incident. “So this 22-minute video doesn’t justify what happened?” Jones questioned. “And [then they] tried to tell me that you saw my child raise his hand and hit the window, but you don’t see this lady hit my child?”

Jones said Zamarie is a sweet and happy kid, but since the incident, Zamarie has been nervous about riding the bus.

Jones says she hopes the bus driver faces the consequences for her actions. In the meantime, Zamarie’s mother said she would always fight for her son. “I am his voice,” Jones said. “He doesn’t talk, but I do. I talk, and I ain’t got no problem talking for him.”

Jones claims since Zamarie has attended East Moline School District, this is the second incident Zamarie has had with an adult hired by the district. Jones said the first incident happened in April 2022 at Hillcrest Elementary School.

The East Moline School District released a statement about the incident:

I cannot comment on student matters or personnel matters due to privacy laws. If a report had been made, it would have been investigated fully and taken very seriously. Upon completion of an investigation, we would have communicated with the family on the status and the outcomes to the extent we can without violating privacy laws.

Dr. Kristin Humphries, Superintendent · East Moline School District #37