Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bus drops off child at wrong place

This was my biggest fear when my child started kindergarten and started taking the bus. I was so worried he would get off at the wrong stop or fall asleep on the bus and be left there. Almost every year at the beginning of school, I have to run a story about a child who seems to disappear after getting on the bus. The scariest part is that no one seems to know where the child is-just that he/she is missing. Here is a letter I received from Amanda Frisby on Monday. She had a horrible first day of school. Has this every happened to you?:

Today was my son's first day of first grade. He just turned 6 on August 10th. He was to be dropped off at his great grandmothers house. After waiting for two hours for any one of the many buses to stop and drop of my little Aiden my grandmother called me to inform me that he was not there.
I called the school (Armstrong Elementary). They placed me on hold while they called the bus office. I was on hold so long that the phone began to ring back. The principle answered the phone (I was talking to the secretary) and told me that she was still on the phone with the bus office and they would call me back whenever they heard something.

I am starting to panic at this point.

I drive to my home, thinking that they may have dropped him off there. He is not there. I knock on the neighbors doors and they have not seen him. I then quickly head to the bus office to see if they have him or have gotten a hold of the driver who (hopefully) had my child.
I get to the office and tell them that I am the mother looking for my child and continue to ask a strand of questions. They tell me, "Calm down Ma'am". They told me that they couldn't get a hold of the drivers and that there were only two bus drivers still out.

I then called the police. Who started taking a description on my son, they called the bus office (where I was already at). She told me that they would send an officer out but that I should just talk to the bus staff because they were working on it. I decided to leave and look for my son when they told me that they reached one of their bus drivers and that he had let off a child meeting my son's description on the corner of two streets (my son does not know his way around). The driver also explained that the boy left holding the hand of some girl.

I am flipping

My boyfriend and I are driving all around asking people in the neighborhood of the intersection (that the driver claims he might have dropped my son off at) and asking them if they had seen him.
We then get a call that my son is at his school and never really got on the bus and that I needed to go there to pick him up. I get a block away from the school (a block away from seeing my son) and then I get a phone call telling me that he is not there and that they do not yet know where he is.

I stop at the school anyway and my boyfriend drives at this point because I am unable from being so upset.
I check on our home street again and ask another neighbor. We then headed back towards my grandmothers house and the bus office when I get a call saying that he might be at an after school program in town. I then got another call confirming that.

A friend of mine who was also looking in town was closer and went to the program after I told her he was found. (A staff from the program exclaimed "There is your mommy!" In which my friend replied, "I'm not his mother, she's on her way."
I finally got there and held my son while giving the arriving police officer my last name. He provided dissatisfaction with the bus system from personal experience and felt at loss as what to do. The School Principle (Whom I believe did everything he could and will surely follow up to make sure nothing happens like this again) called me to make sure I was okay and tell me his plans for tomorrow.

The East Peoria Police department, called me to make sure we were okay and offered any further or future assistance.
However, I have not received a phone call from the bus office manager or the bus driver of First Student transportation systems. No idea who the bus driver is that could pinpoint exactly why my son got off the bus at the wrong stop.

According to an article in the Journal Star another child was lost on Tuesday after being let off at the latch key program.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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