CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Mason County principal apparently dragged a special-needs boy screaming from the seat of a school bus, rolled him down the bus steps and forced him to the pavement, according to video footage released as part of a federal lawsuit against the man and the county school board.
The lawsuit, filed by Melanie Plants on behalf of her son, Zachary, 11, comes two weeks after police arrested Point Pleasant Intermediate School Principal Cameron C. Moffett and charged him with felony child abuse in connection with the incident.
On March 21, bus security cameras recorded Moffett ordering all children seated in front of Zachary Plants off the bus. After the boy walked to a seat near the front, he sat down and refused to leave the bus. The video shows Moffett grabbing him from the seat and forcing him into the aisle, then rolling him down the bus steps.
The boy can be heard screaming "I'm sorry" during the incident.
As he lay on the pavement, in front of dozens of other students and teachers, Moffett appears to push his knee into the boy's back before ordering him to "get up."
At least three adults, including a teacher and a bus driver, did not attempt to intervene.
A criminal complaint filed in Mason County Magistrate Court also states that Moffett "pushed and shoved" the boy out the door and, once outside, "held Zachary to the ground with his hand and knee to his back."
Moffett was released from custody after posting a $20,000 property bond.
Students were preparing to embark on a field trip when the incident occurred, according to Mike Clifford, the Plants family's attorney. The bus driver and teacher noticed that the boy was sitting in the aisle of the crowded vehicle, apparently pushed there by his two seatmates.
Both adults approached the boy and asked him to move. When he refused, the teacher sent for Moffett.
Plants, according to the lawsuit, is on the school system's individualized education plan, indicating that he has special needs. The lawsuit does not indicate his exact condition.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston.