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Noblesville Schools reaches settlement following mother's lawsuit over bus aide slap

Student with disabilities slapped by bus aide
Bus aide Francella Van Fossen, struck the girl with an open right hand on the left side of her face, court documents said.
Posted at 7:18 AM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 19:26:49-04

NOBLESVILLE — Noblesville Schools has reached a $100,000 settlement following a July 2020 filed by a mother of a student with disabilities.

The mother filed the lawsuit on behalf of her daughter, “RH”, who at the time was a 10-year old third grader attending Hinkle Creek Elementary when a Noblesville bus aide slapped the girl on a school bus.

“RH” has disabilities, including a brain injury, as a result of a car crash that killed her father.

Bus aide Francella Van Fossen, struck the girl with an open right hand on the left side of her face, court documents said.

The lawsuit alleged Noblesville Schools failed to provide proper supervision and training of its employee and should be held liable for the actions of its employees.

Noblesville Schools also failed in its duty to provide a safe environment for “RH,” the lawsuit alleged.

The mother and “RH” sought monetary damages for the mental anguish and distress stemming from the school district’s negligence, court documents show.

“RH” and her mother were represented by law firms Connell Michael Kerr, LLP and Stoesz & Stoesz, LLC.

The law firms declined to discuss specifics of the settlement, which was signed on March 10, but provided the following statement:

“The little girl involved in this action had been in a car accident with her father in which he was killed. As a result of that accident she sustained a severe traumatic brain injury and was receiving special educational services. We believe that one of the purposes of life for each of us is the protection of the most vulnerable in society. We represent many families and children who have been injured throughout the State and believe that the protection of children, the disabled, and the elderly should be our state’s highest priority.”

Noblesville Schools will pay for the $100,000 settlement, minus their deductible.

Noblesville Schools issued a statement to WRTV in 2020 saying, “Student safety is our top priority and we have zero tolerance for behavior that puts our students at risk in any way. We immediately addressed this issue in collaboration with Noblesville Police upon learning of this situation and the bus aide in question is no longer employed with Noblesville Schools.”

Van Fossen claimed the girl bit her arm and touched her face, the court documents said.

Van Fossen was sentenced to 180 days in the Hamilton County Jail (170 days suspended) for a Class B Misdemeanor of Battery. She served 10 days in jail.

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