TAMPA — A former Hillsborough County school bus driver who admitted to kicking an 8-year-old autistic girl down the steps has been sentenced to probation.
Stephanie Wilkerson, 42, pleaded guilty Wednesday to third-degree child abuse — a lesser crime than the aggravated child abuse charge she originally faced — in a deal that spared her jail time. Hillsborough Circuit Judge Chet Tharpe withheld adjudication and sentenced her to five years of probation plus 75 hours of community service.
On Sept. 28, 2012, Wilkerson was transporting special-needs children to Tampa Bay Boulevard Elementary School, near Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
The girl was trying to get off the bus and Wilkerson told her to wait her turn. The girl slapped and pushed the driver. Then, as the girl walked off the bus, she stopped on the middle stair. That's when Wilkerson used her foot to push the girl off the bus.
The student — whom police did not name — fell to the ground and fractured her ankle.