Deltona boy with autism permitted to ride bus after officials lift ban
Boy's mother says the allegations are unfounded
DELTONA, Fla. – Parents of 11-year-old Joshua are relieved, now that their autistic son is no longer banned from Votran's Gold Service, a bus for the mentally and physically disabled.
"He misses his friends, he misses his teacher," said Lisa, the boy's mother.
On Tuesday, News 6 reported that Votran suspended Joshua after reports claimed he made inappropriate comments to a 16-year-old girl.
"DCF, the sheriff's office, Votran, all have come to the conclusion that the allegations are unfounded," Lisa said.
Since then, the family hired an attorney from the Children's Rights Unit of Community Legal Services of Mid Florida, and the attorney met with Votran's decision makers.
"We were concerned about the process that happened," said Dr. Kathy Kelly, supervising attorney.
Dr. Katie Kelly told News 6 that Votran considered Joshua guilty before concluding the investigation, which resulted in Joshua missing five days of school.
"What we would have preferred, was that they did an investigation, let him ride the bus since he was no danger. He had never touched anyone and he hadn't even really made inappropriate remarks," Kelly said.
"I'm glad that we had come to a first step agreement with Votran," Lisa said.
But the family now said they want drivers to be trained on how to handle people with autism.
"It's going to save a lot of children being mislabeled, hurt and misunderstandings in the future," Lisa said.
"This training is important. There is a tremendous number of children with autism throughout Central Florida who rely on these services.
If that doesn't take place, then we're probably going to look at other options like a federal complaint," Kelly said.
News 6 called Votran for comment but we have yet to hear back.
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