UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. – Police are investigating after a 6-year-old boy was left on a school bus for 8 hours in University City on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the University City School District says the child fell asleep in the back seats of the bus. The boy’s mother called police when he didn’t return home from school.
The School District of University City's transportation provider, Missouri Central School Bus Company, has safety procedures in place to guard against this type of situation. The bus driver failed to check the bus before leaving.
The boy was returned to his mother and taken to a hospital for precautionary purposes.
The bus driver has been suspended while an investigation is underway.
STATEMENT FROM UNIVERSITY CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Yesterday, administrators in The School District of University City became aware of an incident in which a first grader at Flynn Park Elementary was inadvertently left on the school bus.
According to the information we have at this time, the student boarded the school bus, fell asleep and remained on the bus after the other students had exited. The District’s transportation provider, Missouri Central School Bus Company, has safety procedures in place to guard against this type of situation. However, it appears that those procedures were not followed. The sleeping student was not seen by the driver and was inadvertently transported back to the bus terminal.The student remained on the bus, at the bus terminal, for approximately 8 hours.
Parents called the University City Police Department to report the student missing. He had been marked absent at school with a follow-up call to parents scheduled.
District administrators are in contact with Missouri Central School Bus Company officials and both teams are cooperating fully with the University City Police Department.
The bus company confirms that the driver has been suspended pending a complete investigation. At the District's request, he will not return to University City Schools.
The school principal remains in close contact with the student's parents and follow-up contacts will be made.
As a District team, we are deeply sorry for the concern caused to this family. District officials are reviewing the District’s relationship with the bus company and are working with them to review policies and procedures intended to ensure student safety. We are also reviewing our own internal safety and security procedures. Our goal is to ensure that this does not happen again.
This is the second student left behind on a bus, in just seven days.
Jeffery Steimel is only four years old, and spent nearly four hours alone on a Lincoln County bus.
“He asked me why did the bus driver leave me on the bus? Why wasn't I dropped off at school? I asked him if he wanted to ride the bus again, he told me no,” says Steimel.
A few days ago, the boy’s father was shown the surveillance footage inside the bus, and learned in addition to the driver, two maintenance technicians also overlooked his son in the seat.
“No one noticed him then, not until 11:40,” he says.
Steimel said the cameras also recorded the driver reacting to the news that Jeffrey was left behind.
“And she said, great, now I'm fired now. Didn't even worry if Jeffery was okay. Then she went back to Jeffrey and said why didn't you tell me you were on the bus? Pretty much blaming him for not speaking out,” he says.
That driver has been fired. James has also learned, she could be facing charges. More than anything, he’s upset, this has happened again.
“It's laziness, that's what it is,” says Steimel. “You'd think after last week, all the bus drivers would be aware, hey this might happen to me.”
The Lincoln County RIII District has enacted new policies since the bus incident. They will now require teachers to check the bus along with the driver, before they leave the school each morning. They will also start notifying parents by phone of student absences.