Putnam City Bus Monitor Arrested For Lewd Acts With Student
PUTNAM CITY, Oklahoma - He was supposed to watch out for the well-being of children with special needs. But now, a former Putnam City School employee is accused of inappropriately touching one of those kids while they were on a bus ride home.
A spokesperson with the district tells us 76-year old Jerry Dean Dawson was arrested last Friday, and claims both a bus driver and cameras captured him acting inappropriately with one of those special needs students.
The police report states the video shows Dawson "touching and behaving inappropriately with a student on the school bus," and that Dawson is clearly seen "standing close to the victim" and "rubbing himself on the victim's backside. "
It states he is also seen "groping" both the student and himself and even "staring at the victim's crotch area."
At one point the video shows Dawson touching the severely handicapped student, causing him to "rise up out of his seat" and scoot over.
"It's appalling and disturbing," said Steve Lindley, communications director for the Putnam City School District. "It's a betrayal not only of trust placed in an employee, but really a betrayal of values in society."
Lindley said Dawson was hired back in 2008 to be a bus driver, and did pass a background check.
He then became a bus monitor three years later.
"What they do is they help students get onto the bus, they may help students get fastened into a seatbelt or into a harness," said Lindley. "For students that are in wheelchairs, they make sure those wheelchairs are clamped down."
Lindley said bus monitors then watch the students, to make sure they are OK, so that the bus driver can concentrate on driving.
According to the police report, the bus driver in this case noticed something suspicious in her rear view mirror, and felt it was inappropriate. That's when she activated the panic button located on the driver's panel on the bus.
That button then alerted school administration where to look on the surveillance video from the cameras located on the bus.
The police report states the video footage starts while the bus is at Western Oaks Middle School, and continues while they are on the road. Lindley said school administrators viewed a total of eight days of video.
We talked with parents and grandparents who have children attending Putnam City School about the allegations.
"Something like that I think he should be fired and I think he should be put in jail," said Kelly Litherland, whose grandkids attend Putnam City Schools. "I'm very thankful that they do have cameras."
"We have cameras on the bus not only to look at what students may be doing but what staff may be doing as well," Lindley said.
The police report states in a statement, Dawson "admits to standing close to the victim in the video," but does not admit to any "wrong doing." He claims the victim was "touching himself and exposed himself," and that he sat next to him to help him "straighten his clothes."
Lindley said the video disputes that.
"In this situation, it's pretty easy to see what right and wrong is," said Lindley. "The Putnam City Campus Police investigation concluded this was someone who had chosen to do something wrong."
We checked and Dawson resigned last Monday, five days after the district started their investigation.
He is currently in the Oklahoma County jail on $30,000 bond.
The district did alert the families of the special needs student involved. Any other concerned parents are asked to contact Putnam City campus police at (405)-789-3621 or Bethany Police at (405)-789-2323.
Putnam City Schools released the following statement:
"A former Putnam City bus monitor was arrested on Friday, Nov. 22nd, regarding allegations of inappropriate behavior with a student. The bus monitor submitted his resignation to the district on Monday, Nov. 18.
The allegations first surfaced on Wednesday, Nov. 13th. The bus monitor was taken off the bus as soon as allegations came to light. District officials and Campus Police reviewed many hours of video from the bus, took statements from people with knowledge of events, and talked with parents and grandparents of the student. Base on information gathered, Bethany Police arrested the former bus monitor at his residence.
Providing a safe and secure environment for students is the highest priority of the Putnam City school district. All employees are required to undergo a background check before they are hired, and the district expects all employees to act with the best interests of students in mind and make sure students are safe, respected and protects. The District is deeply troubled by the idea that an employee may have betrayed the trust placed in him."