Neighbors say Stephanie Wilkerson was the type of woman who didn't take her job as a bus driver for Hillsborough County schools lightly.
"I know she gets up and goes to work every day, so I thought she was upright," said neighbor Gary Dunlap.
Wilkerson finds herself in big trouble after investigators say she literally kicked an 8-year-old autistic girl off of the bus, fracturing the little girl's ankle.
Tampa Police say it all started when the girl was eager to exit the bus outside Tampa Bay Blvd. Elementary School.
"The bus driver told her that it was not her turn, and she needed to wait her turn. The 8-year-old child hit and pushed the bus driver," said Andrea Davis of Tampa police.
Investigators say the girl was on the stairs ready to get off the bus and go to school when there was another confrontation.
"The bus driver told her to get off multiple times when she didn't get off she used her foot to push her off of the bus, and the child fell to the ground," said Davis.
That's when police say the girl hurt her ankle.
On Thursday, Wilkerson was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse. She'll appear in court Friday.
"It doesn't matter what preceded it, the kind of behavior described in the report is just completely unacceptable," said Hillsborough County School District Spokesman Steve Hegarty.
The incident happened in late September.
Wilkerson was immediately pulled from her job as a driver and placed in another job with the transportation department when the district found out about the incident.
"You don't use your foot to help someone or to push someone off the bus," said Hegarty.
Back in Wilkerson's neighborhood, people who know her say the alleged behavior is out of character.
"I've never seen her be violent or anything like that," said Dunlap.
Police say bus drivers, especially those transporting special needs children, cannot react in this manner.
"You have to have special skills to be able to deal with a child with some disabilities and while any violence is not justified you have to have some extra patience," said Davis.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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