New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said an investigation is underway into the alleged sexual abuse of two children on Buffalo school buses. WBFO's Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley says State Senator Tim Kennedy of Buffalo reached out to the commissioner for help.
“We are pleased that the commissioner has heeded our call,” said Senator Kennedy.
Kennedy called on Commissioner Elia after a six-year-old Catholic school student reported being sexually assaulted by an older student in December. In November there was a complaint issued by a nine year old student. In both reports there were no bus aides on the school buses. Kennedy told reporters they will watch 'intensely' as the investigation takes place.
“And if in fact the lack of a school bus aide led to these abuses, that were alleged, then in fact it is going to strengthen our position that we have to have school bus aides on these school bus aides on these school buses to protect our children and ensure they are supervised when being transported to and from school,” stated Kennedy.
In a letter to Kennedy, Elia indicated she has order the state's director of Pupil Transportation investigate the reported cases.
But the Buffalo Public School District issued a statement. District's Chief Operating Officer Kevin Eberle said they welcome the investigation.
"We are aware of Senator Kennedy’s letter to Commissioner Elia and her response in regard to alleged bus incidents. We welcome the investigation of the Director of Pupil Transportation as directed by the commissioner," stated Eberle. "While we have evidence that refutes the allegations cited in Senator Kennedy’s letter, we are awaiting the outcome of a full investigation by the Buffalo police department on these same matters."
The statement also addressed the district's concerns of student safety.
"The door-to-door safety of our children is a primary concern of the district. Our objective is to make sure that students are safe on bus rides to and from school, and we are continually examining ways to increase student safety."