Birnie Bus Service, Inc. and the Lansingburgh Central School District in the Troy area have been named in a lawsuit claiming repeated verbal and physical abuse of a 7-year-old developmentally disabled student by a bus monitor.
The lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Albany details the abuse and "efforts taken by the monitor's employer and the school district to cover up the mistreatment," according to an announcement by the Wagoner Firm law firm which filed the legal complaint.
Also named in the lawsuit is bus monitor Kathy Retos, who while employed by Birnie Bus was physically and verbally abusive toward the special-needs child, including "punching the child and using both profane language and racial slurs against her," the announcement said.
Retos in late January was arrested following a state police investigation and was charged with two felony counts of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, according to online reports including the Albany Times-Union. Retos' case is pending in Albany County court, the Times-Union said.
The Birnie Bus company, when asked today about the case, said in a statement it "has safely transported students for over 72 years. Through our quality drivers and monitors we provide excellent service to the students, the parents and the school districts we serve. Regarding the investigation involving former employee Kathy A. Retos; the staff from Birnie Bus Service are working closely with the authorities as part of the investigation."
The statement added "at this time due to the ongoing investigation the Birnie organization cannot offer addition comment except that Ms. Retos is not a current employee of the Birnie Bus Service."
The Birnie Bus company, based in Rome, operates in 18 locations throughout the state, employing over 1,400 people with a fleet of more than 900 school buses, according to birniebus.com.