A Kansas mother is more than a little upset after her 3-year-old was left alone on a school bus for nearly two hours on Tuesday. Alone, and in 44 degree temperatures.
“We launched an immediate investigation,” said Jim Love, Cooperate Safety and Rick Manager for Kansas Central School Bus.
The boy was left on the bus after the driver dropped off other students at State Street Elementary School. The bus returned to bus the barn, leaving the child sitting for nearly 2 hours in the cold, empty bus.
Bobbe Kearns emailed 13 NEWS, saying her son got on the bus around 8:15 a.m. that morning. She tells us she received a call from State Street around 11:15 a.m., asking where her child was. When she told the caller her son got on the bus that morning, she was placed on hold.
“I’m sure you can imagine how I was panicking and freaking out. Grabbing our coats and getting ready to walk to the school. Finally they come back and tell me they found him. He was still on the bus!!!!!”
Kansas Central School Bus says they have three steps in place after a driver is done with a route.
“We ask that they walk the bus when they’re done with their last pickup,” Love explained.
That never happened.
Then there is the second check.
“We expect the bus to be walked again when they return to the bus barn or the lot,” he added.
That didn’t happen either.
The third check is for a supervisor to walk the lot and make sure all the buses have the placard in the window.
The supervisor didn’t have a chance to walk the lot by time they figured out the child was missing.
“The lot was being walked, but we should have gotten out there sooner than what we did,” Love explained.
When the child was found, he was sleeping on the bus. They drove him back to the school were Kearns was waiting. She said he got off the bus smiling, and not hurt.
She writes, “There are so many what ifs that could have happened that by God’s grace, did not happen. I have to find a way to make sure this NEVER happens again to any child.”
“We’re reminding the location of what the expectation is. We’re reviewed their practice of when they’re getting out and double checking that each driver has walked the buses. They’re expected to,” said Love.
A para, or attendant, is also supposed to be on the bus to help with the children, but was absent that day.
Kansas Central says that’s the responsibility of the district.
When we asked the district why a substitute para wasn’t used, they didn’t reply, but spokesperson Misty Kruger sent this statement:
“This situation is unacceptable from our vendor. We are investigating the bus vendor's protocols with them and we have insisted that the bus driver is not serving any Topeka Public Schools students.
"When a student is absent from school, the classroom teacher takes attendance which is entered into the system, typically by the front office. The system runs a robocall that calls parents.”
As for the driver, Love says he was disciplined, but could not elaborate.