Brooklyn DA Reopens Case Against Bus Matron Who ‘Tormented’ Autistic Boy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Staten Island family was optimistic Thursday night that they will get long-awaited justice for their autistic son.

They said a bus matron taunted and tormented him as he injured himself while in her care.

CBS 2’s Dave Carlin has the details of a long-stalled case that’s finally moving forward.

“Every day is a nightmare…all this time later,” Paul Rossi said.

Time does not always heal, Rossi said, still furious six years after his autistic son, PJ, was allowed to repeatedly hurt himself on a New York City school bus.

Now, the long-delayed and repeatedly dismissed criminal charges against the bus matron have been revived by the Brooklyn district attorney.

Connie Clark was charged with misdemeanor child endangering after allegedly tormenting PJ instead of helping.

“He hasn’t been the same since that happened to him,” Rossi said.

The incident occurred in September 2005, while PJ was riding the bus to his Brooklyn school from the Rossis’ home in Huguenot.

PJ’s mother, allegedly already suspicious that something bad was happening on the bus, placed a tape recorder in PJ’s backpack, and it was rolling when he had an outburst.

PJ banged his head against the school bus window more than 50 times.

The audio tape caught everything the bus matron was saying to him, telling him to “shut up” and “knock it off.” Clark also called PJ a “knucklehead” and a “crazy kid.”

Clark, who was fired as bus matron six years ago, had no comment about the reopening of the case against her.

Her lawyer said the tape, once ruled inadmissible, will likely be played in court after all.

“She was frustrated by watching a child bang his head against the school bus window…and said things out of frustration that were maybe not ideal, maybe not pleasant, but certainly not criminal,” Clark’s attorney, Peter Tilem, said.

Rossi, who is also waging a civil suit against Clark and New York City, said Clark should have called him and 911. He said he’s glad the Brooklyn DA continued to press the case that gives his silent son a voice – and perhaps justice.

More from Dave Carlin
  • NYC515

    Being the single parent of a special needs child (although not to this extent) he does have problems, and although I am dead broke and on public assistance (not full) — NO way will I return to the workforce until I am certain he can defend himself. I take him to school and bring him home MYSELF!! I have a very, very close relative who is a school bus driver in NYC. He told me he is stuck again with a horrible matron and there isn’t much they can do as drivers. Even if reported to the school bus company you will be welcomed with outright retaliation and the matron still employed until you have a case like this. Abuses on school buses and matron’s neglect in NYC is more rampant than anyone knows. I hope the DA slaughters that woman.

  • kendra

    i don,t understand what is wrong with people nowa days.she got a job working with kids what does she expect?instead of teasing him why didn,t she help him.if she didn,t want the job she should have not taken the job cause that is the kind of job it is u are required to work with kids no matter what the outcome should be shame on her.

  • Ray Smelly

    Ah the Brooklyn DA’s office…..looks the other way about criminal cops violating civil rights but want to drag up a 6 yr old incident to make it look like they actually do something there. Hynes, the Queens resident and somehow Brooklyn DA has overstayed his tenure.

  • D.C.

    What is the crime, exactly?? Simply making comments like that are understandable — hey, we all have bad days. Why does a kid with behavioral problems get more understanding than someone who’s normal? Come on, now; if you had to deal with such a thing day in/day out you’d probably reach your breaking point, too.

    The lady was fired. And was dragged through court multiple times over the years. I think she’d been punished enough — not that simply voicing one’s frustrations is a crime in the first place!

    Damned entitled parents, always expecting the whole world to revolve around their problem children….

    • nyckat

      Any “normal kid” would not be banging his head on a bus 50 times! He is autistic, and isn’t just a problem brat! She was hired to supervise and CARE for childrem with problems- a job she clearly couldn’t handle!
      Imagine putting your year old baby on a bus- e with supposed responsible adult supervision- only to have the baby be yelled at, and told to shut up for slipping out of his car seat and rolling around on the floor hurting himself- same thing!! The crime dearesr DC is child endangerment- the hefer should consider herself lucky the boy didn’t have a hematoma on the brain and died from her lack of care.

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