SALEM — The mother of a kindergarten student was arrested yesterday after police said she boarded a school bus on Proctor Street and physically attacked the boy's classmate, yelling, screaming and hitting the little girl in the face.
Dominique Hans, 36, of Heritage Drive, Salem, was arrested at her place of employment in Chelsea yesterday afternoon, charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct.
Police said officers were called at 7:20 a.m. after Hans boarded the bus, complaining that her son had been hit by another student the day before.
Bus driver Cheryl Larivee told police, "Dominique Hans was yelling and screaming that another child hit her son on the bus ride home yesterday. Larivee told Hans she did not know anything about it," according to the log. "Hans went on yelling that she was going to do something about it herself."
Hans was "acting crazed and determined," Larivee told police. She ignored pleas to leave and "stormed to the back of the bus," where she "asked her son to point out the person who hit him yesterday."
He pointed to a kindergartner.
"Hans charged the girl and began hitting her in the head and face," according to the police report, "all the meanwhile yelling and screaming at the little girl to never touch her son again. The little girl was crying and trying to protect herself."
The bus driver and other children shouted at her to stop. According to a press release from Superintendent Stephen Russell, the girl was slapped several times. When her attacker finally stopped, she threatened, "You will never hit my child again," Russell said.
Finally, the mother got off the bus, got into her car and drove away.
Police arrived to find the bus driver "upset and in disbelief." The little victim was described as "very upset." She told officers "some lady was just hitting her."
Police do not believe the girl suffered lasting injury. Ambulances were called and EMTs attempted to console her, according to Russell. The victim's mother was summoned, and the girl was taken home.
The children involved attend Carlton School, according to police.
The School Department's transportation supervisor, Alan Leclair, told police that Hans called him after the incident and said she had complained to the school principal the previous day that her son had been "hit" but got no satisfaction.
She said "she took matters into her own hands and boarded the bus this morning and slapped the kid who hit her son. ... No one was doing anything about her son, so she had to take care of it," according to the police report.
Leclair told police that Hans "sounded wild, and he could not get a word in. She was yelling and screaming and then hung up on him."
Letters have gone home to parents and counseling has been provided for the victim of the attack, as well as the children who witnessed it, including Hans' son, Russell said. The reactions of the children will be monitored in the coming days.
The victim returned to school later in the day, Russell said. "She was doing better."
He added that Hans "did contact the school (Wednesday) to bring forward a complaint" and an investigation of possible bullying is under way. Regardless of the complaint, he said, "There was no excuse for the manner in which she handled the problem."
Offering support for the way the bus driver responded, Russell asked, "What does anyone do when someone storms aboard your bus?" In the midst of the incident, Larivee had called her company and urged them to alert police.
Russell knew of no previous problems involving Hans. As of yesterday, police also said they had no knowledge of any previous involvement with the woman.
"We remain committed to the protection and safety of all our students," the superintendent said. "We are reviewing all that took place."
Police also filed a child abuse report with the state Department of Children and Families.