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Polk school bus attendant accused of abusing special needs students hit with more charges

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A former Polk County school bus attendant was hit with more charges after detectives found more evidence of her abusing people with special needs, authorities said. 

Juanita Tappin, 43, was taken into custody earlier this month after a child with special needs reported that she had been hit by her bus attendant.

Detectives reviewed bus surveillance video, which showed Tappin snapping a rubber band on the victim and hitting her on the face and neck. She was also seen punching other victims and hitting them with a hard plastic seat belt cutter tool. The school bus attendant was arrested and charged with six felony counts of abuse on disabled adults and special needs children.

Tappin was suspended without pay on May 15 and she will be terminated at the June 18 school board meeting, according to Polk County Public Schools. 

On Wednesday, investigators said they reviewed 30 days worth of surveillance video, in which Tappin is seen abusing two more people with special needs who were not previously identified. 

One of the victims was a disabled adult, who Tappin is accused of hitting in the face with her hand. Tappin was also seen striking another child with special needs in the head with a plastic bottle and with the metal end of a seatbelt. 

Tappin was charged with one count of child abuse and one count of abuse of a disabled adult. She is currently being booked into the Polk County Jail.

“We were hoping that we wouldn’t see any more abuse when we went back and reviewed a month’s worth of bus video, but we knew in our guts that we probably would. There are no words to describe how sickened we are to see this woman prey upon these helpless, most innocent of victims,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. 


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