By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Parents of two students in two different Leander ISD schools are frustrated with incidents that happened during their childrens’ ride home from the first day of school on Monday, and say they’re not satisfied with the response from the schools or Leander ISD.
In one incident, a sixth-grade girl attending Four Points Middle School was put on the wrong bus and later dropped off at “an isolated River Place location with few houses and a construction site,” according to the girl’s mom.
Her parents, who wish to remain anonymous, said they were “were absolutely shaken to the core.”
“How can they just drop off a kid in a random, remote location without telling the parent,” the mom asks, calling the incident “unbelievable.”
The girl’s parents want to alert other parents to better coach their children on how to handle something similar situations. It was their daughter’s cell phone that allowed her to communicate with them that she was on the wrong bus.
In another incident, a kindergartner from Winkley Elementary who fell asleep on the ride home, received cuts and bruises after the bus stopped abruptly, throwing the girl into the seatback in front of her.
Four Points MS case
On Monday morning, the Four Points 6th grader rode the bus for the first time ever to FPMS. After school, she started out on the correct bus but then the bus driver couldn’t find the child’s name on the list and asked her to get off of the bus.
FPMS apparently could not find the 6th grader’s physical street address on any of the bus route addresses, the mom said.
“The teachers were scrambling to figure out which bus she should be on by the street address. Another driver said she knew where the street was and can take her. The teachers put my child on that bus… but we were never told,” said the mom.
The middle schooler texted her dad saying she was on the wrong bus while her mom called the school to find out more but didn’t get any answers.
Through text messages from their daughter, they got the bus number but that wasn’t helpful because they were not getting through to the transportation department.
FPMS principal Dr. Joe Ciccarelli and an assistant principal were aware of the situation. Ciccarelli was in contact with the parents and he encouraged that they call the transportation department. They did multiple times, but only got voicemail.
The 6th grader’s dad ended up talking to the bus driver using his daughter’s phone to help understand the location and next stops.
“(A few minutes later) when my husband finally caught up to the approximate location of the bus, he found our daughter standing alone in this isolated River Place location,” said the mom. “Our daughter said the bus driver asked her to get off because she had to leave.”
“We panicked for over a half hour while my child said she was really scared and sweating in 101 degree temperature, crying and super thirsty,” the mom said.
The middle schooler’s mom said she wishes FPMS had just kept her daughter at school because they would have gone to get her.
She said that LISD had a lapse of judgement in this incident and hopes there is a better protocol in place when students are put on the wrong bus.
Veronica Sopher, LISD spokeswoman, said they are still researching this case.
“We’re looking into this situation and trying to find out where the process needs to be improved,” Sopher said. “Student safety is our No. 1 concern. With this case, we will visit with campus staff and transportation officials. We are trying to get the most accurate and current information on students as we work through the first week of school transportation issues.”
Winkley Elementary case
Aubrey, a kindergartner at Leander’s Winkley Elementary, fell asleep on the bus during the ride home. The bus driver reportedly hit the brakes, bringing the bus to an abrupt halt, and tossing the sleeping girl into the seatback in front of her.
Aubrey’s mother, Jennifer Roberts, said: “Aubrey fell forward hitting her face on the seat in front of her.”
Aubrey’s older sister, Avery, a 5th grader, shared the details of the incident with her mom and grandmother after the two got off of the bus and were nearly home.
Roberts was not informed of the incident while conversing with the driver about the bus route and where the bus would be stopping. Her priority was to discus the bus stop with the driver, she said. She didn’t notice at first the bruises and cuts on Aubrey’s face but then Avery pointed it out, adding that she had to brace herself from the stop.
Roberts then went back and stopped the driver to ask her about the incident when the bus pulled back around. The driver told her that she tells the children to stay seated. Roberts informed her that Aubrey was asleep and asked why she did not inform her of the incident when the children got off the bus.
Aubrey’s injuries included a bruised nose, upper and lower lip and chin cuts and a scratch to the forehead.
The driver said she would make an incident report, and then she woke up the another child occupying the bus for the remainder of the route.
Roberts called the transportation department at LISD and did not get an answer and left a message.
By noontime on Tuesday, August 26 the parents of either case had not heard back yet from the LISD transportation department.