A disturbing video has been obtained showing an employee of the Conroe Independent School District (ISD) brutally beating a vulnerable student on a school bus. The video was first provided to The Publica by House Representative Steve Toth, who represents the district the school is located in.
The terrifying 32-second clip shows an adult man brutally beating a 17-year-old boy in the aisle of the school bus using what appears to be a bottle. The bus was in the process of transporting students home for the day at the time of the incident.
The Publica can reveal that the victim, who attends Conroe High School, is a foster child currently living at a residential treatment center. Known by the moniker “Big Mike,” the youth was placed there by child protective services and would be considered particularly vulnerable.
Footage of the incident was captured on the cellphone of another student, who began circulating the clip on social media. At the time, other Conroe High School students claimed that the man was a teacher within the district, but The Publica has since confirmed he was employed as a bus monitor.
Representative Toth told The Publica that he was disturbed by the footage, and said that he “grieved that a grown man would violently react in such a way towards a teenager.”
Toth also revealed that the student required emergency medical services following the brutal assault.
“After further investigation, we have discovered that the minor was seen at an urgent care center for a cut on his head from the lid of a water bottle, which was used during the assault.” He also cautioned that there was “more to the story” and that additional footage from the incident exists.
“The complete video has not been released. And there was a confrontation before the beating took place. But there is never a reason for an adult in the school system to react in such a violent and angry manner towards a child,” Toth stated.
Disturbingly, the boy appears to have been penalized following the assault, with Toth revealing he was initially slated to spend 14 days in disciplinary action but was ultimately was handed a three day out-of-school suspension after being beaten by the staff member.
Rebecca Smith-Nash, the founder of Love Heals Youth, visited the victim in hospital and told The Publica that the boy is “still healing” but has a good support system. Love Heals Youth is a local non-profit in Conroe that provides resources to foster children.
Smith-Nash says that youth who experience compounded trauma, such as being abused by family and then a stranger, can suffer from long-term impacts, and she expresses worry about the boy’s mental health going forward.
“The long-term impacts of ongoing abuse from so many adults in any child’s life can be catastrophic. My concern is how is he going to transcribe that for the rest of the world,” Smith-Nash explains. “But thankfully we are all rallying around this young man, and he has a great support network to ensure that he has the tools he needs to recover in a healthy way”
The Publica reached out by email to Conroe ISD’s Communications Director, Sarah Blakelock, who confirmed in her response that the employee has since been fired.
“We are disturbed by this unacceptable behavior which is not representative of our hundreds of hard-working transportation staff. The individual is no longer employed by the District, and the Conroe ISD Police Department is completing their investigation with the expectation of pursuing criminal charges,” Blakelock said.
The Publica has issued several open record requests to the school district seeking additional information on the incident. At present, requests for the footage from the school bus security cameras, email correspondence regarding the incident, and employee file documents related to the bus monitor who committed the assault are pending.