Knox County Schools releases statement after non-verbal special needs student assaulted
One Knox County teaching assistant has been charged with assault and another charged with failure to report child abuse after court documents show a special needs student was attacked on school bus 164.
According to authorities, Robert Jack Wilson is accused of elbowing a 17-year-old non-verbal special needs student in the face and punching him in the head while the bus was stopped in December 2019. The student reportedly suffered a broken nose and chipped tooth due to the attack.
Wilson was hired as a substitute by KCS in September 2014 and hired the next month as a Special Education Educational Assistant at Ridgedale School. He resigned from that position less than a year later, on Aug. 21, 2015. Wilson again became a substitute in September of 2016 and was hired in March of 2017 as a Special Education Educational Assistant at Ridgedale, according to a KCS spokesman. He worked in that position until he was involuntarily terminated on Dec. 4, 2019.
“The safety and security of students is our most important priority. After becoming aware of this incident, Knox County Schools took prompt action regarding the employees who were involved," KCS Director of Public Affairs Carly Harrington said in a statement to WVLT.
Teaching assistant Elena Banks was charged with failure to report child abuse in relation to the incident. She is accused of witnessing the event but failing to alert anyone about it. Banks was originally hired as a substitute on April 17, 2018, and then hired as a Special Education Educational Assistant at Ridgedale on October 3, 2018. She resigned on Dec. 4, 2019.
Jeannie Hurst was a part-time bus driver who was accepted onto the eligibility roster on August 14, 2015. She was suspended from the roster on Dec. 5, 2019.
The school bus driver, Jeannie Hurst is also accused of witnessing the attack and failing to report it. Hurst is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on July 8 on charges of failure to report child abuse.
Wilson and Banks are scheduled for arraignment on June 24. Both were arrested, but Knox County records show they were released on bond.