Bus driver, attendant cleared of all charges after leaving special needs student on bus

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jun 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-01 03:20:49-04

The Polk County school bus driver and attendant who faced charges of child neglect three months ago for leaving a teen with special needs on a school bus have been cleared of all charges.

State Attorney Jerry Hill announced the decision in a court filing, saying “the facts in this case, while concerning, do not rise to the level of felony Neglect of a Child.”

Bus attendant Gwendolyn Simmons is trying to rebuild her reputation.

“I’m going to move on with my life,” she told ABC Action News Thursday morning.

The case grabbed the attention of bay area parents in part due to the shocking video, showing the 13-year-old with special needs, walking around an empty bus and finally climbing out of a window to escape.

Investigators said he then hitch-hiked 30 miles home. To make matters worse, Sheriff Grady Judd said it happened on two separate occasions.

“They left a kid on the bus twice in one week — the same kid — and he's darn tired of having to hitch-hike home!” he said during a news conference in early March when the pair got arrested.

Now questions are swirling about what actually happened on board the bus, and what really prompted the state attorney to drop the case.

Simmons and her attorney both tell ABC Action News that they believe the charges were dropped because the teen “intentionally hid” from the driver and the aide in order to skip school.

“I want Grady Judd, just like he blasted me out, you know viral or whatever he did, I would just like for him to come and apologize to me,” Simmons said.

Simmons wants a publicly apology similar to the lashing she and driver, Gale Brown, received after the incident.

Judd declined to comment.

A spokesperson said they still believe the teen fell asleep on the bus.