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Friday, Oct 19, 2018
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Wesley Chapel High instructional assistant accused of abusing special needs student on bus

A Wesley Chapel High School special education instructional assistant was arrested Monday on two counts of child abuse after a school bus video showed him pushing a restrained special needs student down by the back of the head multiple times, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

The student sustained injuries on his back, according to the arrest report. He is also nonverbal and can only speak via sign language.

Derek Bray Simpson, 35, of Tampa, was arrested shortly after 7 p.m. Monday at 36409 State Road 52, the report said. He was booked into the Pasco County jail in Land O’ Lakes, where he was being held in lieu of $10,000 bail.

The Sheriff’s Office said that on Sept. 18 and 20, Simpson was observed on the school bus video "putting all of his body weight on the victim," who was restrained in a four-point harness, "and putting his head down."

Simpson was seen restraining the unnamed victim’s arms by the wrist and putting his left elbow into the side of the victim’s neck, the report said.

He has been an exceptional student instructional assistant at the school since April 2017, according to Pasco County School District spokeswoman Linda Cobbe.

Simpson doesn’t have a disciplinary record, said Cobbe, adding that he finished Nonviolent Crisis Intervention training in January.

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