IA Radio Host Jan Mickelson Defends School Bus Driver Charged With Assaulting Child With Special Needs

Mickelson: “Even A Special Needs Kid Can Be A Twerp”

Conservative Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson defended an Iowa school bus driver who was jailed after video surfaced of the driver assaulting a student with special needs. Mickelson claims the child should have known to obey the adult's authority and said he refuses to call the child a victim.

According to the Des Moines Register, a Johnston, Iowa school bus driver was “arrested on charges of assaulting a child with special needs.” The October 29 Des Moines Register article reported that, according to police, the driver “pulled the student out of his seat... hit the student in the head and pushed him down to the floor of the bus”, after the student allegedly told the bus driver to “shut up.” A video posted on social media shows other students on the bus yelling at the bus driver to stop. The Register reported that students then got off the bus and went to the sheriff's office to report the incident. According to police the driver was arrested and the student received medical attention in an ambulance on scene.

On his November 4 show, Mickelson -- a former bus driver -- commented on the news of the driver's arrest, saying he was “rooting for the bus driver.” He responded to reports that the fifteen-year-old victim has the mental capacity of an eight-year-old, arguing “an eight-year-old understands obeying the people who are in charge” and refused to call the student a victim, stating, “even a special needs kid can be a twerp.”

JAN MICKELSON: Alright, 'You can't put your hands on another kid.' And you heard the attorney say 'it's never okay to put your hands on a child when angry.' That's rubbish. There are many times when a parent is angry and they must put their hands on a child. It is never right to manhandle a child, whether angry or not, inappropriately. If there's a safety issue involved or if there's an authority issue involved -- I know that you can be charged with assault, but some cases putting your hands on a child to restrain them from hurting themselves or others is necessary. I am not saying that was what happened in this case but I'm also not entirely thrilled with the way this is being positioned, either.

'Johnston school bus driver arrested on charges of assaulting a special needs student.' Now, that immediately, the language of that immediately puts any school bus driver on the defensive because, 'Oh, this child had special needs.' Well the story itself said he was a fifteen-year-old had a mind of an eight-year-old. I would argue that an eight-year-old can restrain themselves. And an eight-year-old can obey simple directions like, 'You can't sit there and you have to move.' And an eight-year-old can understand adult authority and school authority. And an eight-year-old understands obeying the people who are in charge. And I'm not going to call this kid, special needs or otherwise, a victim.

This kid thought of himself as having special needs and was demanding that he not be required to move. It was a question of wills. And you have an adult, a sixty-one-year-old bus driver, apparently got fed up with the mouthy little twerp. Now even a special needs kid can be a twerp. Because they are in one sense diminished doesn't mean they're automatically virtuous.

No, I don't think everybody that's a twerp needs to be whacked. But in this case I'm thinking, I could be persuaded to the other side of this, but because of my own experience as a bus driver I'm thinking right now that I'm rooting for the bus driver. You can persuade me otherwise. [Mickelson in the Morning, 11/4/15]

Below is video of the incident on the bus as filmed by another student: