VUSD Parents Fearful for Children’s Safety after Bus Driver Arrested

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VACAVILLE -- Two days after a bus driver was arrested on suspicion of hurting a special needs student, concerned families sat down with the Vacaville Unified School District superintendent to discuss what happened.

The driver, Kim Klopson, was removed from her route on Feb. 6, the day of the incident, and was fired the next day. She has been charged with felony child abuse. She worked for the district for 18 years and was a driver only three times this year.

This was the only problem that has ever come up and she's had glowing evaluations, according to district leaders.

"When I first found out I had that sick feeling to my stomach because my child has been in the care of this driver in the past, and it sort of breaks a trust you've built," said Maricarmen Dorigatti. "He's been riding the bus since he was three. So, having that trust be broken, it's really more than broken, it's shattered, and that's really where it's hard."

Dorigatti's 6-year-old son, Gabriel, is autistic and non-verbal. He would have been on the same bus as the little girl Klopson is accused of abusing and injuring when the girl wouldn't get off the bus.

Gabriel's mother expressed her concerns over the communication between county and city school programs, saying she didn't get a letter about the incident until Friday.

The situation was especially hard for another mother of a non-verbal high schooler who has ridden with Klopson. She felt the district did all the right things, but also knows her child got great service from Klopson.

"I understand it's her responsibility to take control of the situation and do what's right, but she's a human being as well and she's a very sweet and nice lady," the mother said at the meeting Friday.

Several district bus drivers came to the meeting so they could hear parents' concerns first-hand.

Most in the room didn't want their faces shown to protect their children's privacy.

The district is considering parent suggestions that a second adult ride the special needs buses to help stop any future incident before it gets out of hand.