ASHLAND, Ohio– An Ashland City Schools bus driver has been suspended without pay and is facing criminal charges after she was caught on video slapping an 8-year-old-boy.
The incident happened on January 17, and the video from an on-board camera shows driver Cathy Goetz interacting with the boy, who was upset when he got on the bus.
According to the police report, the 43-year-old told investigators she did not know the child was “autistic,” and that when he started screaming, she tried to get him to stop.
The video shows that the boy continued to scream, and Goetz eventually stopped the bus and confronted him.
She is seen in the video smacking the boy, and he is then heard threatening to kill her.
Goetz then called her bus dispatcher, who called 911.
As Goetz waited for Ashland police to arrive, the boy continued to scream and stomp his feet, and that’s when video shows Goetz grabbing him by his collar.
When a police officer got onto the bus and escorted the boy off, Cathy Goetz told the officer that the 8-year-old threatened her and hit and kicked her, but did not tell him that she slapped the boy and grabbed him around the collar.
When police eventually gained access and watched the video, Goetz was charged with assault, menacing and child endangering.
During her initial court appearance on Friday, she entered a plea of not guilty.
Goetz told investigators and school district officials that she did not remember slapping the child, and said that she grabbed him by the collar to prevent him from kicking her.
She was initially suspended with pay, but she is now suspended without pay and could face termination.
Ashland Schools Superintendent Dr. Douglas Marrah told FOX 8, “It was just the way that the situation was handled. What she did verbally was a concern, but it was the physical part that upset me, and I thought that once I saw that, something had to be done.”
FOX 8 contacted Cathy Goetz by phone; she declined comment.