BY COURTENAY EDELHART Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
An 8-year-old special needs student was inadvertently left behind on a Kern County Superintendent of Schools bus for more than five hours Monday.
The boy attends a KCSOS class on the campus of San Lauren Elementary School in northwest Bakersfield. KCSOS provides transportation to and from the campus, which is part of the Beardsley School District.
After the substitute bus driver finished her route, she parked under an awning at the KCSOS bus yard at 705 S. Union Ave., leaving the vehicle at about 8:35 a.m., said Chris Hall, assistant superintendent of support services for KCSOS.
At about 1:55 p.m., an employee saw movement on the bus and investigated. That's when the boy was discovered.
The district immediately called the boy's mother at work in Wasco, and she asked that her son be taken to her at work. The child was driven there in a district van, accompanied by the director of transportation and the director of special education services.
Hall called the incident "devastating" and said the district has apologized to the family and will review its driver policies to avoid similar situations in the future.
"What you have to look for is all the good that can come out of it and hopefully make it that much safer going forward," Hall said.
KCSOS operates 90 school buses that deliver about 1,000 children to 55 different locations throughout the county.
Regular and substitute drivers are trained to check their buses at the beginning and end of every route, so the child should have been discovered much sooner, Hall said.
The driver has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Monday's high was 98 degrees.
It was fortunate that the bus was parked under an awning, Hall said.
"At least he got some shade," he said.