A Colorado bus driver, Bertram Jaquez, has been fired and charged with child abuse after video footage showed him slapping a young girl in the face. The crime the girl in question committed to warrant such savagery? Not properly wearing a mask. Sound familiar at all?
“I told him no, I get sick from masks,” the ten-year-old girl wrote in a statement regarding the incident. After explaining that other kids on the bus had joined the driver in berating her over mask usage, she said “I yelled at them and said you shut up you’re not involved in this and the bus driver slapped me.”
According to the bus driver, the arguing of several girls on the bus drew his attention. After approaching the young girl and telling her to raise her mask, she claims to have told him “No, I get sick from masks.” As seen in the video, the driver then attempts to forcibly remove the mask. He then slaps her across the face and points at her.
In a written statement to the school district, the bus driver, Bertram Jaquez, admits to the assault while attempting to excuse it. “Out of reaction, I slapped her once,… I tried to explain and she just wouldn’t listen, yelling at me and the two girls.”
“We believe it is never okay to lay a hand on a child. The District responded quickly to the situation by placing the driver on administrative leave so that we could fully investigate the incident. Local police were involved during the investigation as well as us being in contact with the child’s family. The driver’s action justified termination of employment, as it goes against District policy and our values. We are very saddened by this incident. Our goal every day is to transport students safely to school and back home, but that can only happen when everyone, including students and staff, follows the rules. We are currently working to identify next steps to help our drivers with strategies designed to support a safe ride to and from school.”
Details in the district’s termination letter to Jaquez reveal that he has been known to lay hands on students in the past.
“This is the second time this year where you have physically touched a student out of anger. The first incident was august 19, where you grabbed a student by the arm after a verbal argument about wearing a facial covering,” the letter said.
How a man like this was allowed to continue working with children given past behavior has yet to be explained. On the bright side, Jaquez is facing various misdemeanor charges. These include harassment, assault causing injury, and child abuse.