Special needs five-year-old left on school bus for three hours

A special needs kindergarten student was left unattended on a school bus for three hours Friday. Now, the school bus driver has resigned.

Dustin Huff put his son, Conner, on the school bus just after 8 a.m. Friday. Then, he got a call from Washington Discovery Academy around 9:20 a.m. notifying him that his son was marked as absent.

Huff told the school official his son should have been in school and the official said that the bus might just be late.

The phone rang again just before 11 a.m. and a school employee told Huff that his son was now missing.

“They weren’t keeping good enough track of him at school,” Duff said.

“They didn’t say he didn’t make it to class. They just said he was missing.”

Conner was found inside the bus at the Wier’s parking lot, where buses are stored after the morning route, about 15 minutes later.

A school nurse examined Conner after he was located and he showed no signs of injury.

“I’m just glad they found him on the bus,” Duff said. “If he would have wandered off from the bus or wandered off from school, who knows if they would’ve found him. You wouldn’t know where to start.”

Plymouth Community Schools superintendent Daniel Tyree said the bus driver failed to check the back of the bus and therefore did not see that Conner was asleep in the back seat.

“This young man was left on the bus from approximately 8:20 to 11:15 at which point the school realized he was missing,” Tyree said. “Within ten minutes, they were able to find him.”

Tyree also said that the elementary school is investigating why the school employee that noticed Conner’s absence did not follow the right procedure.

“We just want to make sure we discover what happened and where the ball was dropped,” Tyree said. “That way, we can put things in place so this doesn’t happen again.”

Huff said he wants protocol in place that prevents this sort of thing.
The school bus driver resigned after the incident. Tyree said the driver could not explain why he did not check the back of the bus.

“He was very remorseful and felt terrible that this happened,” Tyree said.

There are plans to put special devices on school buses to ensure drivers check all the seats.

“We just got a security safety grant from the state,” Tyree said. “One of the things we are going to use the money for is to put some electronics… in order to take the key out of the bus you have to go to the back and push a button.”

Tyree said the goal is that these devices would keep any driver from leaving kids on the bus.

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