A negligence lawsuit filed on behalf of a 7-year-old autistic girl alleges that a La Puente school district bus driver left the child on a bus unattended in 2017 at the district parking lot, where she was later found wandering by staff members who were told by superiors to try and cover up the incident.
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit states that the driver, Ozzy Gutierrez, was supposed to take the girl, who was then 5 years old, from her bus stop to Edgewood Academy Elementary School in Valinda on Oct. 27, 2017.
"Through his responsibility as a district bus driver, Gutierrez was immediately responsible for the safe transport of Bassett Unified School District students to and from school on days they were scheduled to attend school,'' according to the suit, which alleges that he instead drove the girl to the district facility, parked the bus and left her inside.
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A representative for the BUSD superintendent's office did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit, which was filed Monday and seeks unspecified damages.
None of the district staff members who later found the girl wandering by herself documented what happened or called law enforcement because their superiors told them "to cover up Gutierrez's failure to perform his job...,'' the complaint alleges.
The suit further alleges that the district knew that Gutierrez was negligent in the transportation of a student in a prior incident, yet retained him as an active bus driver.
The suit contains a copy of an email written in 2016 by a district employee who makes reference to Gutierrez and states he has "seen a constant disregard for established procedures'' and believes "the safety of our students are at risk when drivers do not follow the required procedures established by state and federal transportation law.''