POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County bus attendant accused of hitting and tormenting children and adults with disabilities made her first appearance in court on Friday.
Juanita Tappin, 43, went before a judge via closed circuit TV.
The judge set her bail at $6,000. That’s $1,000 per count.
As a bus aid, she was supposed to look after Marc and Laura Serio’s daughter Emily and many others with special needs and disabilities while on the bus.
But investigators say she was physically abusing the children.
According to a release from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the investigation began after a special needs child reported to school staff that she had been hit by her bus attendant.
The nurse documented two red welts on the victim’s face.
Detectives interviewed the victim and reviewed the bus video, which showed Tappin striking the victim 11 separate times by popping her with a rubber band and hitting her on the face and neck.
In the video, detectives saw Tappin punch other victims, strike victims with a hard plastic seatbelt cutter tool and snap a rubber band on their faces and necks.
As a condition of her bail, Tappin is not to have any contact with the alleged victims.