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‘Inexcusable’ and ‘Dangerous’: School Bus Driver Used Duct Tape to Restrain 10-Year-Old Boy With Down Syndrome, Prosecutor Says

school bus driver duct tapes student with down syndrome
Source: Delaware County District Attorney’s Office; Unsplash

Jun. 3 2023, Published 11:03 a.m. ET

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A school bus driver in Pennsylvania has been accused of using duct tape to restrain a 10-year-old child with Down syndrome, according to authorities.

On May 30, the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office announced that 54-year-old Juliet Pratt is being charged for the alleged March 8 incident.

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An investigation was launched after police were called to Hillcrest Elementary School in Drexel Hill, according to authorities.

The District Attorney's office said surveillance footage allegedly revealed Pratt used duct tape to secure the child's ankles and chest despite the child already being seated in a safety harness provided by the district.

"She was driving a bus that had a 10-year-old boy, who my understanding has Down syndrome," District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said. "He's in a special harness on the bus and she decided for whatever reason, we don't know, she needed to add additional illegal criminal restraints.”

According to investigators, there was no evidence of the child attempting to exit the seat or engage in any other movement on the bus.

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Once they arrived at the school, officials alleged Pratt used a seat belt cutter to remove the tape from the child.

"Using duct tape on a child who was already fully restrained in the vehicle's harness was not only inexcusable, it was also dangerous. Had an accident occurred, this child would have been unable to free himself from the tape," Stollsteimer said.

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During the investigation, Pratt reportedly told officials she had duct-taped this student one other time before the most recent alleged incident.

Pratt was charged with unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, endangering the welfare of a child and assault, authorities said.

The Upper Darby School District said in a statement that “this is a personnel matter” and “the individual is no longer driving buses at this time.”


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