2safeschools Records of Children Left Behind on The School Bus, Lost, Abandoned

Archives: 2003 | 2002

Submit child left behind, lost or abandoned in a school or activity bus related event to: "Left Behind." Please indicate when possible monitors and school staff involved, the name of child, Age or Grade, School, City, State, Transportation Provider Date at time of incident brief description and outcome. Also, if possible please include a Newspaper or Television Station that carried the story, and the address (http://) of their WEB page.
State of Incident Summary Drivers, Others
SUSPENDED | FIRED
Additional Comment
Arizona JUN 2003, TUCSON - A 6-year-old boy was left asleep on a bus parked in the Tucson Unified School District's bus yard on June 20, 2003. The boy, after waking up alone on the bus, eventually wandered outside the bus depot and was found standing alone on the side of the road by an employee of a nearby auto shop. - 1 driver To School
The driver faces a maximum of six months in jail and $2,500 in fines. She could also be sentenced to up to three years of probation.
(©Arizona Daily Star)
Connecticut SEPT 2003, WETHERSFIELD - A kindergarten boy was left inside a parked school bus for about 15 minutes. The bus driver did not see the sleeping child when he ended his rounds. The boy's mother alerted the school that her child had not been dropped off at home. - 1 Driver From School

(©Associated Press)
Delaware APR 2003, SMYRNA - A 6-year-old boy, on his way to the Smyrna Kindergarten Center, was left on a school bus for an entire day. He told his parents he was cold, and slept on and off all day. no info To School
(©WPVI TV 6)
Georgia AUG 2003, MOULTRIE - A 6-year-old, wheelchair-bound girl, who has cerebral palsy, was taken to the hospital after she was found passed out on a school bus at the bus driver's residence by the transportation director 45 minutes later. The girl was forgotten by both the driver and a monitor. The TD described both the driver and the monitor as good, experienced staff, but one is just as responsible as the other for the oversight. no info From School
"They just got careless. It's carelessness. Every meeting ... the first thing I tell them ... is you walk that bus and make sure every child is off that bus. They have been told that over and over." Colquitt County Schools Director of Transportation.
(©Moultrie Observer)
Illinois JUN 2003, WETHERSFIELD - A 4-year-old special-needs boy who attends classes at Walsh School was left strapped in a bus June 19. The bus had a sign in back that read "occupied" on one side and "unoccupied'' on the other. Drivers were supposed to flip the sign before leaving the bus. The bus driver (49), a woman who had worked for the district for five years and had an outstanding record, failed to do so on a bus which only has five seat rows. The boy wasn't discovered until four hours later, despite several safeguards the school has in place to make sure no child is left on the bus. Homer School District has approved installing alarms on buses to ensure drivers check for children at the end of their routes. An aide forgot to unload this child and the classroom teacher didn't record his absence - neither fired or suspended. 1 Driver To School
In 1991, the state Legislature amended the Wrongs to Children Act, making it a misdemeanor to abandon a child on a bus on the first offense and a felony for a subsequent offense. If convicted, she faces up to 364 days in jail, probation or fines.
(©Chicago Sun-Times/Daily Southtown)
Illinois SEPT 2003, SKOKIE - A school bus dropped off young children at a preschool program, but apparently no one realized a 4-year-old girl had been left alone on the vehicle for several hours. A Skokie school bus driver and a bus attendant failed to check the bus. A neighbor spotted the girl on the vehicle, parked at McCracken Middle School, and alerted school officials to the child's presence. The girl was unharmed and was returned to school. 1 driver
1 bus monitor
- To School
Additional disciplinary action is being considered against the two employees
(©Chicago Tribune)
Iowa FEB 2003, ALBIA - A 7-year-old boy spent nearly six hours locked inside a school bus. He was on his way to school in Albia, but missed his stop. He fell asleep and when he woke up, everyone was gone and the bus was locked. The father said he understands the driver made a mistake and did not intentionally leave his son on the bus but should have been suspended pending an investigation. School officials didn't inquire about the child's absence because he'd been sick the day before. 1 driver
(3 day suspension)
school staff - no info
- To School
The parents' sued the Albia school district and was awarded more than $30,000.
(©South Bend Tribune)
Iowa FEB 2003, DES MOINES - A 6-year-old kindergarten boy apparently fell alseep on the school bus and did not depart with his sister at his regular bus stop. He then departed the bus at the wrong stop ending up about three miles from home and walked two miles in 19-degree weather before a stranger came to his aid. He put the boy in his car to warm him and called police. The parents had also called the authorities to report the boy was missing. The boy was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was treated for exposure and released to his family. no info From School
Greenwood Elementary School officials said a substitute was driving the school bus, and they plan to review their safety procedures.
(©Associated Press)
Massachusetts JAN 2003, LOWELL - An 18-month-old toddler was left strapped into his seat inside a locked minibus for 5½ hours after a Clarendon Family Daycare Center driver apparently forgot to drop him off at the Center. A passer-by saw the child alone and crying inside the bus parked outside the driver's home and called police. Day care center operator Maria Perez said through an interpreter that she assumed the child would not be attending day care on Thursday and therefore didn't call the parents when the boy never arrived. 1 driver - To School
Lowell Police notified the Department of Social Services of the incident.
(©Boston Globe)
Massachusetts AUG 2003, GROTON - An 11-year-old boy attending a special needs care center was hospitalized after he was left in a parked van for six hours in near 90-degree heat. The child was picked up at home by a Groton school district van but was never driven to the care center. Instead, the bus driver parked the van, and returned about six hours later to drive the van to the Center "presumably to pick up the student." When he arrived at the Center he realized the child was already in the van, police said. - 1 driver To School
The child fully recovered and is back in school. The bus driver was found negligent by the state Department of Social Services.
(©Metro West Daily News)
Massachusetts SEPT 2003, WELLESLEY - After his first day of class a Wellesley kindergartener was placed on the wrong school bus and dropped off in Boston, some 19 miles from his home. The mother of a student at the bus stop looked at the bewildered child's contact information the child was carrying and realized he lived in Wellesley. She then called the boy's family and informed them that he was safe and that she would take him until they arrived to pick him up. not disciplined From School
According to an after-school program official, the bus had a monitor from the Metco organization, but she was not sure why the bus monitor did not notice the kindergarten boy was on a bus going home that he had not ridden to school in the morning.
(©Milford Daily News)
Michigan NOV 2003, CLARKSTON - A 4-year-old was left on a school bus for hours unnoticed, including left alone at the Clarkston Community School District bus garage for about 30 minutes and also was unoticed during a special needs high school run; at the next school the driver finally noticed the child. The staff member who helps the child with speech therapy assumed he was absent. The parent said her son was unattended because no one knew he was on the bus from about 12:15 to 3:05 p.m., when he was then discovered by the driver. Officials said the bus driver has been a district employee for 25 years, has a stellar record and has never had a discipline citation. 1 driver
(five days without pay)
school staff - no info
- To School
A spokeswoman for Clarkston Community Schools said, "We failed our protocol to go to the back of the bus. I'm sure (the check) occurs 99 percent of the time."
(Oakland Press )
Minnesota JAN 2003, ST. PAUL - An 18-month-old Head Start boy attending the Parents in Community Action (PICA) program was left on a parked, cold school bus for more than three hours. Temperatures outside at the time were four below zero. When the child didn't show at home the parent called the center's supervisor and left a message; the supervisor, after hearing the message, called employees and 911. The child was eventually rescued from the bus by police and firefighters, "very cold and lethargic," and rushed to the hospital where he recovered. A required second adult rider (a parent volunteer in this instance), also was on the bus, but she wasn't responsible for keeping track of children, PICA's executive director said. - 1 driver
(No action was taken against 1 monitor)
From School
Reportedly the driver told co-workers that the child had been sick for eight days before and that he may have forgotten about the boy.
(©The Star Tribune
WISC TV 3)
Minnesota JAN 2003, ST. PAUL - A 4-year-old girl apparently fell asleep and didn't get off the bus at her Head Start program. She awoke in a St. Paul school bus parking lot. The girl was on the bus for two hours in frigid weather. She was examined at a hospital and released. This is the second child to be forgotten on a Twin Cities bus in a week. -
1 driver
1 monitor
school staff - no info
To School

(©WISC TV 3)
Nebraska JAN 2003, LINCOLN - A 4-year-old preschooler fell asleep after the bus picked him up from his home. He did not get off the bus when it arrived at Hartley Elementary School, and the bus driver and transportation paraeducator did not thoroughly check the bus after dropping children off at school and to repeat that check before parking the bus in the LPS transportation lot. The boy was discovered about 30 minutes later when two other bus drivers walking through the lot heard him crying and banging on the bus windows. The boy was delivered to school by another bus. The school principal said the boy's preschool teacher had marked him absent, but the school had not yet called his family to check on that absence. -
1 driver
1 monitor
To School
The driver (44) and the monitor were cited for child neglect by Lincoln police.
(©Lincoln Journal Star)
New Jersey SEPT 2003, RARITAN VALLEY - A 5-year-old boy slept in a back seat while the bus made a morning round-trip run from the YMCA to Chittick Elementary School. The veteran bus driver (14 years with the Y) then left the bus without checking every seat, as required by Raritan Valley YMCA policy. Another child's mother found the boy in the parking lot 15 minutes later, the executive director of the Y said. The director refused to elaborate on what action the board of directors agreed to take against the driver but said the driver was disciplined to the "strongest degree possible." no info To School
"I'm not in a position where I can disclose personnel issues." - Raritan Valley YMCA Director.
(©Associated Press)
New Jersey JUL 2003, RARITAN TWP. - A 4-year-old autistic boy was left alone in a scorching hot 16 passenger school bus for five hours after the driver (57) failed to notice the boy was still on his bus after stopping at Copper Hill School to drop off students for an extended education program. Teachers at Copper Hill discovered the sweltering boy, still strapped into a child safety seat, when the driver returned with the bus at 1 p.m. to pick up students; a school nurse treated the boy before he was taken to Hunterdon Medical Center, where he was treated for heat exhaustion and released, police and school officials said. The school did not notify the boy's parents when he failed to show up for class. School policy requires a call home when a student is absent during the normal school year. The policy is now under review to include summer programs. The driver had no previous violations. -
1 driver To School
Police charged the driver with one count of fourth-degree abandonment-neglect of a child. - The district's bus driver handbook states, "Any driver leaving a student on a vehicle shall be terminated."
(©Express-Times)
New Jersey SEPT 2003, LAKEWOOD - A 4-year-old kindergartner got on the wrong bus going home from Oak Street School his first day of school. "The bus driver left him crying and scared and we didn't find out where he was until 45 minutes after he was dropped off," said the child's grandfather. no info From School
The Schools Superintendent said teachers and paraprofessionals at the school should have made sure the child got on the right bus - but once a child is on a bus it's the responsibility of the driver to make sure the student has the correct bus pass and arrives at home.
(©Asbury Park Press)
New York OCT 2003, WEBSTER - A 4-year-old Webster elementary school kindergartner was inadvertently left on the bus while the driver drove home to eat lunch after his run. The child figured out how to open the bus door and then ran away, but was on the other side of the town and didn't know where he was. He was later approached by a couple who comforted him and helped him call home. The child knew his phone number and when there was no answer they called the Webster police. "I was very lucky that he met these nice people. They can never know how grateful I am to them," the parent said. no info To School
The district wants to install more alarm systems on buses. About 10 of the district’s 155 buses are equipped with a system that must be turned off from the back of the bus.
(©Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)
Oregon FEB 2003, SALEM - A 5-year-old fell asleep on the bus during his bus ride to Head Start class at Pringle Elementary School. The driver missed the child and missed the required procedures to perform a complete a post-trip inspection, which includes walking to the back of the bus to check for students and anything else left behind. The child woke up in the bus yard and was found standing in front of the bus. Drivers took him to the office, a district official told KOIN 6 News. The child was alone for more than 30 minutes, according to school officials. no info To School
(©KOIN TV 6)
Pennsylvania SEPT 2003, HAZELWOOD - A 5-year-old boy was found late at night on a school bus. The child boarded the bus to be taken to a relative's house after leaving an after-school program at Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church, never arrived. He was found more than 4 1/2 hours later around 10:30 p.m. on the bus, which was parked at the company's garage. Police said the boy appeared to be in good shape. -
1 driver
1 monitor
From School
Police arrested and charged the bus driver and the bus monitor with reckless endangerment and child endangerment.
(©Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
Pennsylvania SEPT 2003, HAZELWOOD - It was the first day of school for a 5-year-old kindergarten student at Sheridan Terrace Elementary in North Huntingdon Township. He rode the bus home, but when he exited the bus at his stop, his dad was nowhere to be found. The child found his home a few blocks away and entered a window, as instructed by his father if he was in trouble. Unbeknownst to the child and his parents, the bus number and stop were different from the assignment parents received. He was dropped off a short distance from his house, two blocks away from where his father waited. Laidlaw's area manager of driver development and safety, said the child was dropped off near his home because the boy identified his house to the driver. "The incident has been discussed with the driver, and the problem has been corrected. The driver passed the student's house and left him near the house instead of at the designated location," she said. no info From School
The father said even though his son was near his home, his parents were not there when he arrived. The child has since been transferred to another bus and is doing well.
(©Tribune-Review)
Tennessee JUN 2003, MEMPHIS - A 2-year-old girl spent the last few hours of her life alone in the back of a broiling day care van, strapped in a car seat. She was found dead after eight hours, forgotten by day care workers outside the Children's Rainbow Learning Center. A woman standing in the driveway who said she was the day care van driver's mother said, My daughter said that will never happen to her, she would never leave a child on a van. Four years ago, two children died in a similar fashion on the same day, sparking outrage and a wave of investigations of Shelby County day care centers and reforms in Tennessee. no info To School
Tennessee law require drivers and on-board monitors to keep written records of the children on board, and headcounts to make sure nobody is forgotten. Once the kids are inside the center, that roll sheet must be cross-checked with actual attendance.
(©Commercial Appeal)
Texas JUN 2003, AZLE - A 6-year-old boy fell asleep in the back of a school bus on his way home from his first day of summer school at Azle’s Hoover Elementary. After finishing the day’s route, the bus driver, with at least four years experience, failed to notice that the boy was still on the bus. The boy’s day care became alarmed that he hadn’t shown up. About that same time the child woke up, walked off the bus and entered the school district’s transportation office, where the bus was parked. He was soon delivered to his day care provider. no info To School
The boy’s mother has filed charges against the bus driver for "endangerment/ abandonment."
(©Azle News)
Texas AUG 2003, CONROE - A 4-year-old girl was on her way to her afternoon class at Sam Houston Elementary when she fell asleep. After the drop-off at the school, the still-sleeping child was "inadvertently" taken to the North County Transportation Center, where CISD buses are parked between routes, the Transportation Director said. The driver and monitor did not notice the child when they left the bus. Soon afterward, a passing bus driver spotted her and took her into the operations office. The school was contacted and the child was brought to campus and checked to make sure she was not harmed. "The monitor should have checked the bus at two different points in time," the Superintendent told the Palestine Herald-Press. "They made an assumption that everything was well. ... They just made the wrong assumption." The parent said he was never called by his daughter's teacher, principal or anyone at the district after the incident. -
1 driver
1 monitor
To School
CISD Superintendent said he doesn't believe any changes need to be made to the district's policy. The policies in place just need to be followed, he said. 235 of the district's 384 buses have an alarm system.
(©Houston Chronicle
The Courier)
Virginia FEB 2003, NEWPORT NEWS - A 4-year-old kindergartner was let off a her bus stop without a parent or guardian being present. A baby sitter was supposed to pick up the child, but was late. The child was by herself crying and wandering in the rain. When the parent couldn't find her daughter, she called the school and they began calling transportation officials looking for the bus and driver. The sitter found the child unharmed near some apartments where the family used to live. The incident was the third since November in which a bus driver was suspected of failing to follow district rules, resulting in the temporary loss of a child. A month earlier a 4-year-old was found sleeping on a school bus for about 20 minutes after a driver failed to check bus seats after a route. In a similar incident, a bus driver stranded two sleeping 4-year-olds in November. 1 driver
- From School
The district is testing a new drop-off system that would force kindergarten and preschool parents or guardians to present identification cards that match cards their children carry before being allowed to take their children off of buses. No card, no kid, no excuses, the Transportation Director said.
(©Daily Press)
Virginia APR 2003, SPOTSYLVANIA - A 4-year-old boy fell asleep en route to Head Start class at Battlefield Elementary School. The driver and aide failed to complete a post check after parking the bus at the bus lot. The child woke up about two hours later, realized he was alone and got off the bus to relieve himself. Then he hopped back on, sat in the driver's seat and cried, his grandmother said. A transportation department mechanic driving a van through the bus lot saw him and came to his rescue. -
1 driver
1 monitor
To School
School district policy requires drivers to walk to the back of their buses to check seats at the end of each run and post a sign saying "No Child on Board" in the front.
(©Virginian Pilot)
Virginia SEPT 2003, ROANOKE - A 5-year-old boy fell asleep on his school bus while in transport to the Boys & Girls Club from Round Hill Montessori Primary School. The boy's older brother tried to wake him, but couldn't. The older brother then went into the club apparently without telling the bus driver that his younger sibling was still on the bus. The veteran bus driver told school officials that ordinarily he would have checked to make sure all the children had gotten off the bus at the club, but forgot this time. He drove, then parked the bus on a street and and left, again without checking it. The boy woke up, walked off the bus and wandered down the street. When realized the child was not in the building, one of the site directors contacted the school and another called the [Roanoke schools] department of transportation. A stanger driving by spotted the boy, who was sitting at a curb and sobbing. He returned the child to the school by the time the transportation department was reached, nearly 45 minutes after the older child had departed the bus. 1 driver - From School
The club's operations director said the club operates "under an Open Door Policy and members are allowed to come and go as they please, except when registered for our Licensed Summer Day Camp Program. Supervision is not provided outside of scheduled times."
(©Roanoke Times)
Virginia SEPT 2003, SPOTSYLVANIA - A 5-year-old student at Courthouse Road Elementary, was left sleeping on the school bus after the driver completed the afternoon route. The child was discovered on the parked bus in the county's bus lot and was later returned safely to his mother. The parent didn't know where to direct her anger - at the school for not putting her child on the day-care van, at Minnieland for failing to call her when he didn't show, or at the bus driver for parking the bus with her sleeping son still on it. The Superintendent said all drivers are trained to check their buses for children after they complete their routes. No info on any action against school staff - for putting the child on the wrong bus. 1 driver From School

(©Free Lance-Star)
Washington SEPT 2003, TACOMA - A 5-year-old special-needs student who has muscular dystrophy, was left unattended for more than four hours alone on a school bus before school officials discovered him. When he got to his school no one got him off the bus. "He was awake," the parent told The News Tribune. At the bus garage he saw the bus driver, a 17-year district employee, get off the bus. "He waited for the bus driver to come back. He said he was scared and cried a little bit and fell asleep." [Several hours passed] before the school called the mother to ask if the boy were home sick, the police report said. Twenty minutes later, the school called again, telling her the youngster had been found asleep on the bus, which was parked in the bus barn behind Peninsula High School, according to the report. In December 2001 the driver made a sililar mistake. In a letter of reprimand the district reminded the driver that had she performed a required check after letting students get off her bus, she would not have missed a student who fell asleep and was left unattended for about 15 minutes. The letter also warned that she could lose her job if there were a repeat incident. - 1 driver To School
"We pay our bus drivers an extra 15 minutes to give them time to check their buses to make sure they haven't left anybody behind. This driver just failed to do it. There is no excuse for it." - Peninsula School District Superintendent
(©News Tribune)
Washington OCT 2003, TACOMA - A 5-year-old preschooler caught the bus outside her home and was supposed to be delivered to preschool at Northeast Tacoma Elementary. But she apparently fell asleep en route and did not get off the bus with her classmates. After stopping at the school, the driver took the bus to a district parking area, parked it and left, "Assuming the bus was empty," a district spokeswoman said. Upon waking, the girl got off the bus and began walking around the area, where she was spotted by two people who took her to nearby Browns Point Elementary School. While police were looking for her, school district officials realized what had happened and sent her parents to Browns Point to pick her up. - 1 driver To School
This was the second time this school year a South Puget Sound student was forgotten on a bus.
(©News Tribune)
Washington OCT 2003, VANCOUVER - A 5-year old kindergartner fell asleep while riding the bus from Harney Elementary School to daycare. When he woke up, he was alone inside his bus at the bus yard; his driver gone. District policy requires drivers to check their buses and post a sign on the back door signaling the vehicle is empty. Bus service officials explained to the parent that the driver did a walk through at the end of his route and apparently missed the sleeping child. They know the bus driver did this because the driver placed a sign that hangs in the back window proving the bus was checked. So how did the 15-year veteran miss the child? KATU reported, some drivers insist it's possible, if the boy was sleeping on the floor between the seats, he may have been hard to spot. 1 driver
(administrative leave)
- To School
One driver told KATU off camera that some drivers don't do the walk thru. They just come to the back of the bus, open the door and hang their sign in the window.
(©KATU TV 2)
Wisconsin JUL 2003, REEDSBURG - A group of about 60 fifth-graders from Pineview Elementary School in Reedsburg who took a trip June 9 to Riverview Park and Waterworld in Wisconsin Dells. As the bus prepared to return to the school, an 11-year-old boy apparently told a teacher he wanted to change into some dry clothes. He said when he came out of a bathroom, the bus was gone. He began walking to the home of his grandparents, who live about eight miles from the park, but had trouble seeing without his glasses. The student, who has attention deficit disorder, left his glasses on the bus and he is legally blind without them, his father said. A Lake Delton woman drove the boy home to Reedsburg after she found him sitting on a bench about a mile from the park, crying. He was unattended for at least 35 minutes, according to his father. The District Administrator said he was shocked by the teachers' decision to leave the boy behind. Reportedly, the boy may have been noncompliant, failing to return to a designated meeting spot. 2 teachers -
(suspended a year without pay)
1 teacher -
(suspended 90 days)
1 teacher -
(letter of reprimand)
- School Trip
The bus driver and a teaching assistant were not punished.
(©Associated Press)
Wyoming MAR 2003, RAWLINS - A 3-year-old boy was left on the Carbon County Child Development Center Head Start bus for 3 1/2 hours in 7-degree temperatures, Rawlins police chief said. The child was signed onto the bus, but both the bus driver and an aide apparently missed the boy while taking other children off the bus to preschool classes. He was examined at an emergency room and found to be uninjured, the boy's father said. no info To School

(©Casper Star-Tribune)
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