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Montreal mother demands action after daughter with disability attacked on school bus

Mother of young woman sounding alarm after daughter abused on bus
ABOVE: A mother is sounding alarm after her daughter was abused on the bus. Global's Dan Spector reports.

A West Island mother is speaking out after she says her child was attacked on a school bus.

Melanie Fournier, whose daughter Chelsea goes to a school for students with disabilities, said not enough is being done to keep commuting students safe.

“I hear stories all the time, and I always think, ‘that’s not going to happen to my daughter,'” Fournier said through tears.

On Tuesday, she got a call from her daughter’s school no parent ever wants to get.

“They called me at work, it was the principal who called first, and said there had been an incident with my daughter,” she said. “Then the school nurse got on the phone and told me she had been attacked.”

READ MORE: Mother of Toronto student with special needs frustrated amid continual school bus issues

Eighteen-year-old Chelsea had been assaulted on the school bus. Her eye was swollen, a chunk of her hair had been ripped out and she had been bleeding from the face.

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Chelsea goes to Peter Hall School, which is exclusively for students with disabilities. She was born with microcephaly.

“She is almost 19 now, but has the mental capacity of an infant,” Fournier explained. “She does not speak, has difficulty walking. Motor movement is difficult for her.”

The bus had about a dozen students on it at the time. Many of Peter Hall’s buses have monitors on them in addition to the bus drivers, but on that day Chelsea’s did not, her mother said.

“She’s on that bus for an hour and a half with no supervision and she does not have the ability to express herself, let someone know something is wrong. That is scary,” said Fournier.

Now, Fournier is demanding the school put a monitor on every bus.

READ MORE: Teacher takes in lost man with special needs: ‘He deserves a good life’

“She deserves to be treated like a human being. She has feelings. She can’t communicate that, but she has feelings and she got hurt,” she said.

The school says more than 80 per cent of its buses do have monitors.

“Usually, when there’s behaviour that we think is going to happen, we have a monitor on the bus, but it’s not automatic,” said Peter Hall president Jean Laliberté.

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Laliberté says the bus was already on school grounds when the attack took place. It was parked waiting for school staff to come usher students off the bus.

“The driver told us he was in front talking to another chauffeur, and usually it doesn’t happen, but it happened,” he said.

Global News reached out to the bus company — Autobus Seguin based in Laval — but they declined to comment, referring all questions to the school.

According to Laliberté, the school had no reason to believe Chelsea was being put in danger.

Caledon student with disability wants his old school bus service back
Caledon student with disability wants his old school bus service back

“These two students are known to be usually quiet. They sit close to each other many times before,” he explained.

Chelsea only shares a bus with her attacker every second week, so next week they will be apart.  The school told Global News the buses the attacker takes will now have monitors for the time being, and that they will make sure Chelsea is safe.

“We’re going to check the bus where Chelsea is, re-evaluate that,” he said.

Laliberté said he cares deeply about the children at the school and thinks of them as his own. Fournier said her daughter is usually very happy at the school and said she does believe Peter Hall cares.

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Fournier said she has not ruled out legal action if she`s not satisfied with the solution the school comes up with.