CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) --An instructional aide faces criminal charges of child abuse for what happened on a school bus last year. The family of the fourth grade special needs student is also suing the aide for damages.
Spencer Perkins, 25, was assigned to help a student last year at Reagan Elementary School in Clovis. But the events on a bus ride home, left the aide facing serious questions about force used against the child. Perkins is facing a misdemeanor charge of child abuse. His attorney said he was not excessive and handled the situation in an appropriate way after the child was hitting his head on the side of the bus, spitting and headbutting the aide.
Spencer Perkins worked with special needs children at Reagan Elementary, until, his attorney says, he had to restrain a 10-year-old fourth grader on a bus ride home last September. "Spenser thought perhaps he was going to injure himself or perhaps some other kids on the bus and so he took the appropriate action to make sure that didn't happen, that's all he did," said Mark Broughton, Perkin's attorney.
A portion of the incident was captured on the bus surveillance camera. Broughton said his client did not manhandle or mistreat the student. But, a criminal complaint filed by the Clovis Police Department alleges what happened was willful and unlawful and caused bodily harm or injury.
Clovis Unified officials told Action News: "Instructional assistants are given training that is appropriate to the special needs of the students with which they work. This includes training to address challenging behavior manifestations... methods to address behavior that is a danger to the student and others and professional conduct expectations."
Broughton says his client acted exactly as he was trained to, and he contends, the child did not have any injuries. "That young boy had no injuries whatsoever, psychological, physical or otherwise."
The San Diego attorney who filed the civil lawsuit did not return calls to Action News on Monday. And Broughton declined to show us the surveillance video since it is evidence related to two ongoing cases. But he says Perkins had nothing to hide when he got off the bus that day. He met the child's parents at the bus stop and explained what happened.
A year later, the aspiring teacher says his lifelong goal of going into education is ruined and so is his reputation. If convicted, the misdemeanor child abuse charges carry a penalty of up to one year in prison. Perkins was terminated by Clovis Unified, the day after this incident and has been unable to get another education related job because of these charges.