KELLER (CBSDFW.COM) – For any parent it would be a panic-inducing moment. Imagine eagerly awaiting your child’s return home from school, then the bus pulls up and the doors open, but he or she never steps off.
That’s exactly what happened to some parents in the Keller Independent School District and Tuesday they demanded answers from administrators.
The parents said they couldn’t believe what they saw as they waited at the school bus stop Monday afternoon. The moms said they saw two kids get off the bus, then the doors closed and the driver took off with their children still onboard.
“You go through frantic panic. I mean, thinking, ‘where are they?’ said Katie Garcia.
Tamar Shih is the mom of another 1st-grader who did not get off the bus. She says her son had no problems like this last year in kindergarten. “Tristan fell asleep last year on the bus, and that driver [woke him up and said], ‘Come on Bud, let’s get off. That’s your stop.”
The moms said after the bus went by they immediately phoned Ridgeview Elementary and Durham School Services, the bus company. Ten minutes after those phone calls, the bus returned with the two first graders and a third grade child.
According to the parents, the driver returned and told them the children were playing in the back of the bus and should have been paying attention.
Garcia is frustrated that six days into the school year the bus driver expected more from a 1st-grader. “And he looks at me and he says, ‘it is not my responsibility to ensure that your daughter gets off at the correct bus stop.’ Are you kidding me?” she asked. “The safety of my child as a 6-year-old is not your responsibility?”
A spokesperson for Keller ISD said the driver followed protocol when he noticed the kids were still on the bus and returned to the stop. As a routine, bus drivers will do a walk through before returning to the bus barn at the end of the route. The spokesperson says the driver caught it before that point on Monday.
Keller ISD released a statement that said:
“In Keller ISD, the safety and security of our students is a top priority. On Monday afternoon, August 31, a bus driver noticed students remained on the bus, and he returned them to their stop. According to the navigation system, it took approximately 10 minutes from the time the bus originally stopped to when it returned. The driver followed protocol, however, in an effort to provide the utmost customer service to our parents, the driver has been reassigned and a new driver will take over that particular route.”
Parents waiting at the stop Tuesday afternoon, were greeted by a new driver, and what they say was new procedure. Before the bus driver let students off, she made sure a parent came forward to identify their child.
Shih, whose son Tristan was left on the bus Monday, says it’s the first time she’s ever had to give her child’s name. She wonders what would happen if a parent was running a few minutes late. “You need to give the parents notice, if you’re going to hold the kids now.”
A Keller ISD spokesperson said the new bus driver was being extra cautious in identifying parents and releasing students. In addition the driver was attempting to learn faces and families.
Durham School Services says if parents of elementary-aged students, kindergarteners and 1st-graders are late, the driver will wait until the student is met at the stop. Durham says it’s not new procedure – but parents were surprised by the different steps taken today.
Garcia said, “I’m extremely cautious. I always need to know where my daughter is.”
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