LONDONDERRY — Police are charging a bus monitor employed by Durham School Services with four counts of simple assault and one count of false imprisonment for the treatment of a special needs child.
Londonderry Police Capt. Patrick Cheetham said Peter Pizzuto, 78, of Hudson, turned himself in on June 14 after an arrest warrant was issued for an incident that allegedly occurred while transporting a wheelchair-bound child on May 16 and 17.
“He’s accused of unlawfully restraining a minor child under the age of 13 while on the bus from Londonderry to the child’s special school,” Cheetham said.
He said Pizzuto allegedly restrained the child’s wrists with a seatbelt and by other means.
“The school saw marks on the victim’s arms that led them to have concern,” Cheetham said.
Employees at the out-of-town school, which police are not naming, notified parents and the state Division of Children, Youth and Families on May 17. DCYF notified police, which initiated an investigation.
As a bus monitor, Pizzuto’s job is to protect the children from themselves and others, Cheetham said. Under state law, he is normally permitted to restrain a child under certain circumstances but police charged him because of the alleged use of a physical device.
Cheetham said Pizzuto has worked as a bus monitor for about 20 years and has been with Durham School Services for more than a decade. He said the company is cooperating with police.
“This is the first reported incident to our knowledge,” Cheetham said of Pizzuto.
On its website, Durham School Services, a division of National Express LLC, describes itself as an international company that provides transportation services that include home-to-school, special needs and field trips, as well as summer and charter trips.
Pizzuto was released on personal recognizance bond and is to be arraigned July 23 at 10th Circuit Court, District Division, Derry.