Special Needs Child Left on D.C. School Bus for Five Hours

Two employees fired after incident

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A special-needs child was left on a bus for hours Tuesday until a bus driver and aide discovered him before their afternoon route. The little boy wasn't hurt. The driver and aide have been fired. News4's Tom Sherwood reports. (Published Wednesday, Nov 28, 2012)

    A D.C. family is looking for answers after their 4-year-old special needs child was left alone on a school bus for about five hours.

    “A 4-year-old is still on the bus?” Mayor Vincent Gray said. “After you picked him up you didn't take him into school? I mean, it's absolutely astounding.”

    The autistic student was picked up about 7:35 a.m. Tuesday but never got off the bus when it arrived at Walker Jones Education Campus in Northwest.

    “And that incident was due to a gross and negligent violation of protocol,” D.C. State School Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley said. “The driver and attendant are to check the bus and ensure that there are no students on it when they leave the school.”

    The bus stopped at the Southwest Bus Terminal on Blue Plains Drive SW about 9 a.m., and the child was overlooked a second time.

    The 69-year-old bus driver and a 35-year-old attendant got off the bus, unaware that the boy was still in his booster seat, according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

    About 2 p.m., the two got on the bus to start their afternoon route and discovered the boy was still there.

    He was awake and alert and was checked out by EMTs before being released to his mother, according to the OSSE.

    The employees admitted disabling a buzzer alert in the back of the bus, Mahaley said. That alert normally forces a driver or attendant to walk to the back of the bus to turn it off while checking for children.

    The attendant sat up front with the driver instead of in the back seat where she belonged, which also is against the rules.

    The bus driver and attendant were fired following the initial investigation. They could face criminal neglect charges, Sherwood reported.

    “There's absolutely no acceptable reason for this to happen, and the people who were responsible for this were fired,” the mayor said.

    Neither answered when Sherwood called and knocked on their doors Wednesday.