BOSTON — The family of an 8-year-old Dorchester boy who was seen on cell phone video being kicked in the head by another student on the school bus is demanding answers from school officials.
A’Mauri, a third-grader at Match Community Day School, a charter school in Hyde Park, was in a seat on the back of the Boston Public School bus heading home when another student kicked him in the head as a third child pushed against him and held his legs, as seen in the video recorded by another student.
The impact smashed A’Mauri’s head into the window, and he went limp. His eyes rolled back, and his head fell forward, his chin resting on his knees. A’Mauri, whose family asked that his last name not be included to maintain his privacy, suffered a concussion, his grandmother, Sharon Williams, said.
“When you watch that video, my grandson could have died. If he had gotten hit just in the right little spot, he would be dead now,” Williams said. “How can a child do this to another child?”
The incident was the fourth assault on A’Mauri on the school bus in recent weeks, his family claims. A’Mauri’s mother has been asking Match school leaders to intervene after he was choked and his little sister, who was defending her brother, was slapped, Williams said.
“You put these people here to take care of them, to trust them with your children, and they lose your trust because they don’t do what they’re supposed to do,” Williams said.
Although Match is not part of the Boston Public School [BPS] district, BPS provides transportation, bus drivers and monitors for the charter school. A bus monitor should have been on the bus when the incident occurred, Match Executive Director Nnenna Ude told Boston 25 News. But that monitor had recently been reassigned by BPS and a new monitor hadn’t yet been assigned to that bus, likely due to bus staffing shortages plaguing local school districts, Ude said.
“The behavior exhibited by the students involved is abhorrent, and the bullying our student has endured is unacceptable,” Match said in a statement. “We have taken disciplinary action against these students to suspend them from taking the bus, and are pursuing additional disciplinary action since receiving new information regarding the most recent incident. We will do everything in our power to address the severity of these incidents as well as prevent any further escalation.”
BPS spokesman Xavier Andrews told Boston 25 News the district continues to have trouble staffing its buses but could not confirm whether the shortage is what led to the loss of the bus monitor. Regardless, Andrews said, reassigning a bus monitor takes some time to arrange. BPS is also investigating A’Mauri’s family’s claims the driver did not report the incidents or intervene.
“Buses are extensions of our classrooms,” Andrews said by phone Friday. “We’re working with all drivers to ensure they’re supporting safe environments and reporting any bus incidents.”
BPS is now changing some of the bus routes to support the school, Andrews said.
For now, A’Mauri is doing schoolwork at home until his family feels he is safe to return. But as of Friday, he wasn’t healthy enough to attend class anyway, his family said. Since the assault, A’Mauri has been vomiting and hasn’t been himself, Williams said. He returned to the doctor Thursday and to the emergency room Friday for further testing.
“He can’t keep anything down. He’s afraid. He’s not sleeping at night,” Williams said. “By the grace of God, he’s alive. He’s at the hospital, but he’s traumatized.”
A bus monitor is being assigned to ride with A’Mauri if and when he does return.
“We are working with the family and public safety officers for Boston Public Schools, which operates the buses, to determine further steps, and are reviewing the process through which we receive, assess and respond to reports of behavioral incidents involving students and families at our schools,” Match said. “We have been communicating openly with the family and are working to address their concerns to ensure a safe environment for their children both on the bus and inside our school.”
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