Lawsuit says First Student was negligent in failing to prevent sexual assault of autistic student on bus

A lawsuit filed in Johnson County District Court claims that a Shawnee Mission South student with autism was sexually assaulted on a school bus two years ago after a bus monitor left the vehicle.

The suit, which named First Student as the defendant, says the school district’s former transportation company was negligent in failing to have an adult supervising the students on the bus when the incident occurred in April 2016.

According to the suit, an adult monitor left the bus before it departed the school. When the monitor left the bus, another student sat next to the girl and “continually molested” her for approximately 20 minutes. The incident occurred near the front of the bus, two rows behind the driver.

The girls family is seeking unspecified damages for the incident.

Shawnee Mission’s board of education approved the hiring of DS Bus Lines as the district’s new transportation provider in February 2017 despite the fact that its bid for the district’s bus contract was $573,000 higher than First Student’s. District administrators cited persistent issues with First Student’s reliability and documentation of safety trainings among the motivations for going to a higher-cost provider.