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Bus aide on leave after slapping special needs student in Fargo

The student spit on the aide before being slapped, according to Valley Bus management.

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FARGO — A Valley Bus Co. employee has been put on a leave of absence after slapping a Fargo Public Schools student with special needs Thursday, Sept. 15.

The slap was precipitated by being spit on by the student, said John McLaughlin, general manager of Valley Bus, which runs routes for Fargo and some West Fargo students.

“There was an incident in which a special needs student spit in the up-close face of one of our aides, and the aide quickly slapped the student,” McLaughlin said in a press release. “This is not an appropriate behavior for an aide, even given such provocation."

Bus aides assist students with special needs and help drivers with routing and maintaining student discipline, according to Valley Bus.

The aide who is now on leave has an “exemplary work history, with over 20 years of service,” McLaughlin said, adding that “this is not something that has occurred previously.”

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“We have removed the aide from that route and given a leave of absence, while we determine next steps,” he said.

The employee apologized, and Valley Bus is working with Fargo Public Schools to ensure an outcome that is safe for all parties involved, McLaughlin said.

Fargo Public Schools district spokeswoman AnnMarie Campbell directed all questions regarding the incident to Valley Bus but noted the district has a long-standing and good working relationship with the company.

“We are currently in a multi-year contract with Valley Bus for our transportation services in our district. When challenges have arisen, Valley Bus always maintains strong communication with Fargo Public Schools and found a resolution to the presented challenges,” Campbell said.

“We continue to appreciate their support in transporting our students,” she said, adding that Valley Bus is in contact with the student’s parents.

C.S. Hagen is an award-winning journalist currently covering the education and activist beats mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota.
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