Report: Burlington bus aide accused of abuse said boy hit head on window; driver contradicts claim
A former Burlington school district bus aide charged with punching a special needs student and knocking out two of his teeth initially told the bus driver the 8-year-old boy hit his head on a window and bumped her arm, according to a sheriff's report.
Jean M. Micklevitz, a 63-year-old retired firefighter/paramedic from the Burlington Fire Protection District, also told investigators she had no training on how to respond to the combative child and told the bus driver she was worried about a lawsuit, according to the report obtained this week by the Daily Herald through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Both Micklevitz and the bus driver were fired from their jobs with Central Unit Community School District 301.
The Kane County sheriff's office denied a request to release the bus surveillance video from Oct. 2 attack, but several deputies viewed it and included their observations in the report.
Micklevitz was arrested and charged last week with aggravated battery to a child under 13, a felony with a sentencing range of probation to up to five years in prison. A message seeking comment from her attorney, John Kopp, was not returned Friday.
Deputies who watched the video wrote in the report the student, who had not had breakfast, "screamed and struggled" on the floor while being told "no biting."
"It appeared Ms. Micklevitz made affirmative movements possibly hitting (the student) in the mouth with her right arm. (The student's) screaming and crying increased at that point," read part of the report. The deputy noted the boy said Micklevitz struck him and she quickly denied it.
Micklevitz tended to the bleeding boy and found one tooth, putting in a napkin for the boy's mom, according to the report.
In an Oct. 14 interview, the bus driver, whose name was redacted from the report, told authorities she was calling her base for help for the student, who had kicked Micklevitz in the face, when the driver saw Micklevitz's right arm twice make a punching motion.
"(The bus driver) stated that it was not as if Jean pulled her arm all the way back but it was more of a quick forward movement. Immediately after that, (the boy) started to cry and yell out that Jean knocked out his tooth," read part of the report. "(The bus driver) originally heard Jean say that he hit his head on the window but he yelled back that Jean punched him."
After sending the boy home and going to the school to make a report, the driver said Micklevitz mentioned she was worried about a future lawsuit and never complained about bite injuries to her arm.
"(The driver) believes Jean struck (the student) in the mouth two times and knows he never hit his face against the window," the report continued. "She (the driver) also does not believe he hit his mouth on Jean's arm."
Authorities at the Kane County Child Advocacy Center tried to interview the boy on Oct. 21, but he didn't want to talk about it. On Oct. 23, according to the report, a caseworker from the Department of Children and Family Services interviewed the boy, who again was reluctant to talk but eventually said "he was trying to bite Jean's fist as it was coming toward him."
Micklevitz provided a written statement on Oct. 2 in which she said the boy tried to bite her several times and he was in restraints for an hour at his home before getting on the bus. "Now, we have a child lying like a puddle on the floor, yelling. I have no formal training for issues like this. I have no idea what to do next," read part of her statement.
Micklevitz said she knocked out a tooth, which she said was loose, pulling her hand away from the student, according to her statement.
Tom Stirn, superintendent at Central Unit Community School District 301, wrote in an email Friday that Micklevitz received training Aug. 22 to help accommodate the student's needs and more training Aug. 30 for nonviolent crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques.
"What occurred on this particular bus is an isolated, unfortunate exception, and does not reflect the dedication and professionalism of the rest of the district," Stirn added. "The District has a fleet of over 75 buses and employs over 65 school bus drivers who safely transport approximately 4,200 students over 87 square miles on a daily basis. Our bus drivers and aides are supported with tools and training, especially for difficult situations, and they care deeply about the students in their care."
Micklevitz is free on $3,000 bail and is next due in court Nov. 22.