Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Carmel on the Case: Bus-a-Kid
Was it discipline or was it abuse? The state has been asked to decide if the actions of a private school bus driver crossed the line and violated the law. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- Six-year-old Marcus Feldman could be a martial arts master in the making.
But an incident on the private bus that took him to an after school karate class is being investigated by the state.
The driver of a "Bus-a-Kid" bus, which has no air conditioning, reportedly ordered children to raise the bus windows because they were being rowdy.
It was an August afternoon, when the temperature reached ninety one degrees.
Marcus Feldman: "We were sweating to death. We were all of us."
Ten year old Shannon Krimm was also on the bus for a trip the parents believe lasted about 45 minutes.
Shannon Krimm: "We were sweating a lot and we were like this (fanning herself) and it was really hot out. It felt really hot and we were really angry at the guy."
She says the driver had an open window and fan on himself.
Shannon Krimm: "And says how do you like that little brats? He was whispering under his breath."
As you might expect their parents were not pleased.
Darlyne Krimm: "I think it is child abuse really, it's horrible. I was so upset."
Ken Feldman: "You don't punish children like that. I mean this is ridiculous. And its like, it's totally unacceptable."
So Feldman called the owner of Bus-a-Kid, Ivette Aponte.
He says Aponte would not give him a straight answer about who had been driving the bus his son was on.
After he called her multiple times, she took him to court.
Ivette Aponte: "He called four times."
Judge David Krathen: "What evidence do you have of that?
Ivette Aponte: "Excuse me?"
Judge David Krathen: "What evidence do you have?"
Ivette Aponte: "Well I answered his calls."
Aponte testified Feldman threatened her during those calls.
He denied it.
Ken Feldman: "That is a total fabrication in her allegation."
Nevertheless - Judge David Krathen hit Feldman with a three year injunction to stay away from Aponte.
Judge David Krathen: "If you violate the injunction, you can go to jail."
Feldman says he'll appeal.
Aponte meanwhile, refused to tell me who was driving her bus that August afternoon.
Ivette Aponte: "I have no comment.
Carmel Cafiero: "Well how is a person to know if this person has a legitimate license and whether or not this person may have a questionable background?
Ivette Aponte: "I have no comment."
Her attorney later told me the driver was Aponte's husband and she fired him.
The Department of Children and Families is looking into the incident.
Flora Beal: "We can't really discuss the specifics of any of our cases. I can certainly tell you that it is a recipe for disaster."
The state says children are especially at risk in the heat because their core temperature rises much faster than an adult's.
Flora Beal: "The potential threat is a child could possibly die."
Bus-a-Kid operates three buses.
It will be up to the state to determine if it operates them properly.
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