12/17/13 Plymouth Schools Administrators have identified the areas where protocol broke down that lead to a special needs kindergarten student being left unattended for almost three hours on a bus Friday morning.
The child was put on the bus about 8:00 A.M. on his way to Washington Discovery Academy. A call was made to the child’s parents about 9:20 by an attendance secretary at the school asking them why their son wasn’t at school. However, there was an assumption made at that point that the bus was just late. In reality, the bus driver failed to make the check to the back of the bus that is standard procedure. The driver had taken the bus to the parking lot at Weirs where Plymouth Community School buses are stored after morning routes.
Once the realization that the bus had already unloaded, it took only ten minutes to find the boy in the rear seat of the bus where he was asleep and still strapped into his seat. The school nurse examined the child and found no injuries, according to Superintendent Daniel Tyree.
The kindergarten student did return to school on Monday.
Tyree said, “Those involved are heartbroken.”
The bus driver resigned on Friday. Tyree said, “He was very remorseful.”
Conner’s parents, Dustin and Sarah Huff, said they wanted the story to get out so other parents are aware of what can happen. She said, “I think they did everything they could once they realized he was missing, but they could have found him two hours earlier if the protocol at the school was followed.”
Sarah Huff said, “I hope they follow through with what they said that they are going to put on the buses.” But she added, “I think they need extra hands, not just a button.”
Tyree explained that the next step may be to install technology on the buses that would prevent a driver from removing the keys until a switch is activated in the rear of the bus. He said, “This is just one more step in helping drivers remember what to do.” “The responsibility falls on us and we are going to help them. “
If the school officials, including the director of Safety and Security Jim Phillips, decide to move forward with the technology, funds for the new equipment will be available on January 1 from a state grant received by the PCSC for Safety and Security.
Tyree said the school transports some 1,800 students each day with 30 drivers.
Carol Anders Correspondent