An Upper Darby bus driver has been accused of duct-taping a 10-year-old passenger to his bus seat earlier this year. Now the 54-year-old driver is facing multiple charges, including assault.
In a statement Tuesday, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said that Juliet Pratt of Clifton Heights had been charged with “unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, endangering the welfare of a child, and assault” pursuant to the allegations.
The bus driver is accused of using duct tape “to restrain a ten-year-old child on a bus she was driving in March 2023,” the statement said.
Police were dispatched to Hillcrest Elementary School in early March. Law enforcement reportedly viewed a video of Pratt using duct tape “around [the child’s] ankles and his chest” to restrain him to his seat.
Pratt allegedly “used a seat belt cutter to remove the tape from the child” upon arriving at the school.
“Bus drivers are entrusted with enormous responsibility every time they get behind the wheel,” Stollsteimer said.
“Using duct tape on a child who was already fully restrained in the vehicle’s harness was not only inexcusable, it was also dangerous,” he continued. “Had an accident occurred, this child would have been unable to free himself from the tape. There is simply no excuse for this conduct, which is why these charges have been filed.”
This is not the first controversy in the Delaware Valley involving the extreme restraint of a student. In May of last year, a special education teacher in Coatesville, Audra Ritter, reportedly put duct tape on the mouth of one of her students and wrote, “I have nothing nice to say” on the tape.
Ritter was subsequently fired from her position at the school.