Exclusive: Violent altercation between bus driver and special needs student caught on camera

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Security camera video shows a violent altercation between a school bus driver and a special needs student Wednesday morning near the intersection of West Side and Union.

Video from Heir’s, a local sportswear store, shows the driver pull over and he and a student get out to fight. The driver is twice the size of the student and quickly ends up getting the upper hand, body slamming and punching the student before bystanders intervene.

It turns out the student is 18-year-old George Barco — a special needs child who suffers from ADHD and Bipolar Disorder.

The bus contractor FR Yostos Anthony is paid by the Jersey City Board of Education to take him to a special school in Newark, according to the student’s mother Melissa Barcoz

“He’s a special needs child,” an emotional Barco said Friday. “There’s no need for you to come and attack him, he’s like a 40-something-years-old, and my son is 18. There is no need for that.”

PIX11 got the bus company on the phone, and a spokeswoman said the student instigating things by throwing something and getting in the driver’s face. The driver was removed from the route, but not fired.

PIX11 also asked a police department spokeswoman about the incident. She said only the student got in trouble for what happened later that day when he was brought home by the same bus and the same driver.

“He came out and his father asked our son what was going on,” Barco said. “The bus driver lied, and said ‘my son attacked him and everything happened because of my son.’ So my son got upset chased the bus, and broke the back window.”

For that George Barco is facing charges of simple assault and criminal mischief.

The police spokeswoman said officers acknowledge something happened earlier in the day, but did not provide more detail.

Jersey City Police did not appear to investigate what happened during the morning thoroughly. PIX11 was the first to ask Heir’s sportswear for the video. The owner had not heard from officers.

One witness to the fight, William Ibanez, said he’s gone out of his way to contact police to give context to the situation.

“Because to me, this was definitely an assault,” Ibanez said. “To me the bus driver should not be doing that, especially around kids.”

PIX11 will continue to follow up with police and find out if this whole incident will now get a more detailed investigation.

A school district spokeswoman said the district did not find out about the altercation between the bus driver in student until Thursday afternoon. It demanded the driver be pulled from the route immediately.

The district spokes woman said the whole thing is being investigated, with particular attention to why the district did not get more information sooner from the bus company and the special-needs school in Newark.

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