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Feb 22, 2023

School bus aide arrested for rough handling a 7-year old student

Media Contact: Brian Bruchey, PIO

A school bus aide employed by Polk County Public Schools was arrested Tuesday afternoon, February 21, 2023, after a Polk County Sheriff’s Office investigation determined that she grabbed a 7-year old student and forced him into a seat on the bus.

70-year old Christine Barnes of Lake Wales was charged with Abusing a Child without Bodily Harm (F3).

The investigation began after the victim’s mother filed a complaint on Friday, February 17th, after school hours. 

The incident occurred earlier that day on an ESE (Exceptional Student Education) bus that was parked at Ben Hill Griffin Elementary School (501 McLeod Road) in Frostproof.

According to the arrest affidavit, Barnes “grabbed (the victim) by the front of his jacket near his throat, lifting him off the seat causing (the victim’s) head to snap backwards.” 

Barnes then, “forcefully put (the victim) into an open seat on the other side of the aisle.”

During an interview with Ms. Barnes, she told detectives that she lost her temper with the boy, and felt her actions were harsh. She added that she was feeling overwhelmed.

“Fortunately, the little boy only received a small scratch on his cheek from this incident. If you’re a school bus aide, your job is to keep children safe on the bus. You’re also in a position of being a role model—losing your temper with a child is not setting a good example.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff

Inquiries regarding Ms. Barnes’ employment should be directed to Polk County Public Schools.