AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin Independent School District bus monitor faces a felony charge after he was accused of touching a student inappropriately on three separate occasions on a bus in November 2022, according to court records.
An affidavit said Carlos Vasquez, 74, was charged with improper relationship between an educator and a student — a second-degree felony.
Austin ISD said Vazquez was fired Friday, the same day of his arrest, and was on leave since Nov. 11 “when the allegation was first reported.” He had worked with the district as a bus monitor since 2006. KXAN is working to find attorney information for Vasquez. We will update this story if we receive a response.
The student reported they were touched inappropriately by Vasquez three separate times. The incidents happened on a bus “for students with intellectual disabilities and special needs,” the affidavit said.
According to the affidavit, video footage from the bus shows Vasquez sitting one row ahead and across from the student with his feet in the aisle. The video shows Vasquez handing something to the student and his hand appears to touch the student, the affidavit described.
Vasquez and the student had similar interactions on other days, the video footage showed.
When interviewed by an officer, Vasquez initially denied the claims but “subsequently admitted to making sexual contact with the student,” the affidavit states.
Vasquez apologized and said “he would never do it again,” the affidavit said.
Records show Vasquez was arrested Friday and released on bond. That day, AISD sent a letter to families whose child was a part of the bus route last semester.
“Your child’s safety is our greatest concern. We are doing everything we can to understand how this incident occurred to prevent situations like this in the future,” AISD wrote.
How are AISD families feeling about this?
AISD grandparent Joyce Sorenson was shocked and frustrated after hearing about the incident.
“Those are kids that can be more taken advantage of. So that is unfortunate,” Sorenson said.
As a former AISD special education teacher, Sorenson said those students are more vulnerable. She said she was grateful the student spoke up and stopped it before it might have continued.
“The best thing that happened is the child was able to, you know, go to someone in authority, and tell them about it,” Sorenson said.
How are special needs advocacy groups responding?
Senior Policy Specialist with Disability Rights Texas Steven Aleman said these type of incidents are happening more often.
“Unfortunately more and more we hear about reports of school district employees taking advantage or assaulting or abusing a student with a disability,” Aleman said.
Aleman said the most important thing a district can do in this situation is be transparent with the special education community.
“So everyone understands what happened,” Aleman said. “And more importantly, what are we going to do now that this has happened to make sure it does not happen again?”