Video shows attendant abusing special needs child, deputies say

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Video released by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office shows a bus attendant allegedly abusing a special needs child on a school bus.

Brenda Nelson, 65, was arrested on a child abuse charge Thursday.  According to her arrest affidavit, an investigation started last week after someone reported seeing her hit a student on the bus coming from Doris Sanders Learning Center in Lakeland.

Deputies say but surveillance video shows Nelson not only hit the restrained student in the head with her open palm, but also grab the girl by her hair and violently shake her back and forth.

District officials interviewed Nelson about the alleged abuse. She told them the girl was beating on a window and trying to move around the bus, but investigators confronted her with the video, which did not support her claims.

After watching the video nelson said "I must have just lost it. I don't remember doing that. I would never hit one of those kids."

In a statement district superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said in part "She does not embody the values of Polk County Public Schools, and I will not tolerate it.”

A family friend told FOX 13 on Friday that Nelson herself has a child with a disability, making her arrest more surprising.

We stopped by Nelson’s home in Lakeland after she posted a $1,000 bond. And, instead of Nelson we were confronted by a man who said they had a lawyer, but he was unwilling to say much else “get off of my property,” the unknown man yelled.

District officials said Friday they were in the process of firing Nelson, who has worked for the county as a bus attendant since 1983 and they've had no other issues with her before this.

Nelson faces a child abuse charge.