An 8-year-old Mason boy was abandoned for hours on a parked school bus, leading to the firing of the driver and an apology from school officials with promises to reform their absence-reporting systems.
Earlier this month, a Mason school parent put her son on a school bus expecting him to be safely transported to Mason Early Childhood Center.
But Colleen Peters, who later posted about the incident on her Facebook page, wrote her boy “fell asleep on the way to Mason Early Childhood Center. Every child got off the bus but mine.”
“The bus driver was supposed to do 2 checks per protocol to make sure no one, or anything is left on the bus. That did not happen,” said Peters.
“Also, there is a system in place to inform parents if their child is absent. In usual cases, that includes a phone call, a text, as well as an email. We did not receive that phone call, or text, or email. As far as we knew our son was safe at school,” she said.
Peters told this news outlet Wednesday that the April 3 experience was “horrific,” and she now drives her son to and from school because he is scared to get on a school bus.
Mason schools “handled it very poorly,” she said.
“I got a phone call from the principle at MECC at 2:14 (p.m.) that my son was left on the bus for the entire day. It was an unusually humid warm day temps reaching 77. My son got off the bus at 1:50pm by prying the door open that day. He didn’t know where he was, and was very scared (his words not mine),” Peters wrote on Facebook.
While trying to get an adult’s attention at the school bus parking lot, Peters wrote that her tearful boy was ignored by some adults working there as they walked past him into the garage office, she claimed.
Finally, she said, “there was a lady that went on a smoke break that found him and helped him inside (the office).”
Mason school officials apologized to Peters and said the substitute bus driver was fired and a new requirement of all student absences — unexcused and excused — will be confirmed with phone or other communications with school parents within two hours of the start of each school day.
The MECC attendance secretary responsible for confirming absences was reprimanded.
Before the end of the school day, officials said they will place a second call to all families who have not provided a reason for their child’s absence
“We hate that this child was left on the bus. There were some very serious mistakes,” said Mason Schools spokeswoman Tracey Carson, who added that school officials have offered Peters’ child counseling after the incident.
“Our practice has been that teachers are required to accurately record their students’ attendance in our student information system in the first 15 minutes of school,” said Carson.
“We’re analyzing our systems and doing more to try to reduce the opportunity for human error,” said Carson, who said the new procedures will begin Monday in the 11,000-student district, which is the largest in Warren County.
Peters wrote: “I’m not telling this story to harm anyone or blast anyone, because everyone has seemingly been apologetic as much as they can be while covering for themselves. I don’t think anyone really wants anything like this to happen again. I’m telling you all as a mom, because my heart aches so hard since this happened. I haven’t slept, I’ve had the worst of days worrying about just dropping my kid off at school, being able to trust the (school) administration.”