A family from Cumberland is suing the Gray-New Gloucester school system and a former bus driver there, alleging that they failed to protect the civil rights of a non-verbal autistic student who the driver was accused of slapping in 2018.

The lawsuit was filed by Melissa Seavey against SAD-15, it’s superintendent, Craig King, and employees in charge of special needs education and school transportation. The suit also names Raymond Files, the bus driver accused of assaulting the teenager. Files later pleaded no contest to the charge.

Reached by email, King declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Seavey’s son, now 18, has autism and attends the Margaret Murphy Centers for Children, a special needs school in Saco. At the time of the alleged assault, the teenager was living in a group home in Gray, meaning the local school district there was responsible for his education.

In August 2018, Raymond Files was assigned a bus route to transport the teenager, referred to in the complaint only by the initials, B.S. An aide on the bus witnessed Files slap B.S. when he did not comply with Files’s instruction to buckle his seat belt, Seavey previously told the Portland Press Herald. The encounter was also captured on a security camera.

Seavey’s attorney in the civil suit, Peter Clifford, said he was shown the video by a school attorney, and said the video is clear.


“It was completely unprovoked by my client,” Clifford said. “Mr. Files, it seems clear to me, had not been properly trained, did not seem prepared to handle the situation and overreacted with a very vicious attack on a very disabled young man.”

Files, who lost his job at the district, was charged with misdemeanor assault, and pleaded no-contest to the charge in March 2019, meaning he was convicted of the crime but never admitted guilt, and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for costs Seavey incurred paying for attorney’s fees and medical bills to care for her son after the incident. He now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which has required further mental health care, the lawsuit contends.

In an interview Wednesday, Files said he was unaware of the lawsuit and had not yet been served with a copy. Files then blamed the school district for not training him to care for special-needs children before he took on the route, and called out the district’s director of transportation, Margaret Bowdoin, who is also a defendant, for not properly managing the situation.

“Margaret should have never had me doing that run, because I wasn’t trained for it,” Files said. “I wasn’t trained for special needs. I was a bus driver. I was trained to take care of children without special needs.”

Files said he was enticed to take on the route because of a promise of more pay. He also said he was told that other drivers had backed out of driving the special-needs children because of previous disruptive behavior.


“I regret that I agreed to do that job,” Files said. “I should have kept to my guns and said no. But they (the school district) begged me to do it, because they had no one else.”

Clifford declined to discuss Files’s admission that he was not properly trained.

“What I want to do is get Mr. Files under oath and ask him some of the same questions you asked him, but I need to do that under oath,” Clifford said.

Attempts to reach Bowdoin, along with another co-defendant in the suit, Paula S. Leavitt, the director of special services at SAD-15, were unsuccessful. King also declined to respond specifically to File’s allegations about a lack of proper training.

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