A veteran Delaware school bus driver has been terminated after a 5-year-old boy was left on the bus for seven hours.
The student who attends Linden Hill Elementary in Pike Creek, Del., had fallen asleep when his bus driver dropped off his fellow students at school on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
“I was just scared,” recalls Ibn Polk, who was afraid to return to school 24 hours after staying on the bus and being unable to eat because of the rules against doing so.
“I didn’t really know what was going on because I know I dropped my baby off at the bus stop and he was on the bus,” his mother, Ivana Dennis, said.
Security footage at the school revealed the driver did not listen to warnings from other students explaining Ibn was still on board.
“When she didn’t do that, that made it seem like she didn’t really care,” his father Abdul Polk says.
Ibn awoke and cried for a little while. He had made it all the way to the school bus yard and left alone for hours in temperatures in the 20s before the driver, who returned to bus her afternoon pickups, heard him cough and realized he was on board.
The Red Clay School District stated the bus Ibn was on did not have a functioning child reminder alarm system. Still, there are other checkpoints the driver should have followed when she pulled off from the school and arrived at the bus yard.
“We recognize that procedures in place were not followed and this was a breakdown, a failure,” said Pati Nash, public information officer for the Red Clay School District.
Since school attendance roll was not taken until after the 11 a.m. daily automatic call parents with absent children receive — another procedural violation — Ibn’s parents were not notified that morning by the school that their son was not in class.
“Somebody dropped the ball,” Ibn’s dad said, before the student’s mom added, “I could have caught it at 11, versus 3:10.”
The driver, who was employed by Sutton Bus Company, had 20 years of experience, but she will no longer drive for the school district.