WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – A Polk County Public Schools bus attendant was arrested after police said she beat an 11-year-old student with a belt last November.
Loni Covington, 33, faces a felony charge of child abuse without bodily harm in connection to the Nov. 15 beating, according to the Winter Haven Police Department.
Officers said an investigation into Covington was prompted after the boy’s grandmother and caregiver, whose three grandchildren ride the same bus, reported multiple instances of abuse from Nov. 14-16, 2022.
The boy told his grandmother that Covington had flicked him on the ear and neck on the bus on Nov. 14, police said. Then, the next day, the grandchildren said the suspect beat the boy with a belt on his side, resulting in marks along his side and back, according to officers.
[TRENDING: Become a News 6 Insider]
According to police, the investigation revealed that the boy had been standing up while the bus was in motion, prompting Covington to tell another student to take off her belt before folding it and hitting the victim nine times while on top of him. The suspect told police that the boy was talking back to her and she “didn’t recall the belt ever struck the child,” despite video showing the belt making contact, the department said.
On Nov. 16, one of the other grandchildren also said Covington “grabbed her by the wrists and snatched a picture out of her hand” and also made the three children sit on a bus seat that was only meant to hold two students, causing whoever was on the end to fall off, police said.
The Polk County School Board released a statement following the arrest.
“This is unacceptable behavior for anyone who works with children. We appreciate the Winter Haven Police Department for conducting a thorough investigation and helping us protect our students.”Polk County School Board
The district said it is moving forward with her termination, but Covington resigned on Dec. 2, 2022.
Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily: