Gloucester parent sues schools over bus incident

Kim Robins - Posted on May 01, 2019 - 01:39 PM

A parent is suing the Gloucester County School Board and a bus driver after her child reportedly fell asleep and was left on his school bus for seven hours in January. The suit seeks $500,000 in damages from the board and $250,000 from the driver.

The suit, filed in Gloucester Circuit Court on March 25 by parent Stephanie Tuttle on behalf of her son by the KB Murov Law Firm in Newport News, states that her son was picked up by school bus driver Dawn Barkers at 8 a.m. on Jan. 22 and he fell asleep on the way to Achilles Elementary. 

The suit claims the driver “failed to perform a basic, common sense check of the bus” before parking it next to the school. It further states that the boy, a fifth grader with a 504 plan, was neglected on the bus for approximately seven hours in freezing temperatures until the end of the school day. 

The suit further states that the board was grossly negligent in that it had no procedure in place to account for the boy’s absence before the end of the school day.

According to the suit, school division employees reported the incident to Gloucester Social Services, which found child abuse and neglect occurred to the boy as a result of the bus incident. It also states that the boy has sought and received medical care, which he will continue to receive in the future. 

The suit further said that the defendants denied responsibility and claimed the child could and should have removed himself from the bus. It also requests the civil suit be heard by a jury.

In his response to the suit on behalf of the defendants, attorney David Carrigan of the firm Harman, Claytor, Carrigan and Wellman of Henrico said the defendants deny they are liable to the plaintiff and denies the defendants are entitled to any of the relief requested. 

Carrigan further asserts the defendants deny their actions proximately caused the boy’s injuries and that he was not injured in the amount or to the extent the suit alleges. 

Carrigan also states that the claims against the defendants are barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, and that both defendants ask that the suit be dismissed with prejudice. No trial date has been set in the case.