Seminole County school bus driver, monitor arrested for abusing special needs child

A school bus driver that has been employed in Seminole County for 15 years was arrested after he was caught on video surveillance abusing a special needs student during a bus ride this week.

According to a report from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, 73-year-old James Blanton was arrested on Thursday, December 1, after authorities were made aware of a video that was recorded by a student depicting Blanton placing his hands on a special needs student.

During their investigation, police discovered that on Monday, November 28, Blanton placed a special needs student into an escort position with a wrist and elbow lock, causing the student to cry out.

School bus video surveillance showed two separate incidents where Blanton had grabbed the student and lifted his arm. A student who witnessed the second incident recorded that altercation on his phone, according to authorities.

The school bus video surveillance showed that the victim was sitting in his chair, strapped in, and had both hands on the partition in front of him. The victim did not make any movements towards the bus driver or any other students before Blanton grabbed and placed him into the escort position.

During an interview with Blanton days later, he advised that he has been working as a bus driver fro Seminole County Public School System for the past 15 years.

Police also interviewed and arrested Lisa Florio, a bus monitor that has been employed with the county for nearly 30 years. Florio confirmed that she was sitting directly behind the victim when the incident occurred and felt as though Blanton’s behavior “was excessive.” Florio said it was “evident” that Blanton was causing physical pain due to the noises that the victim was making.

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