‘I Can’t Let This Slide’: Detroit Mother Outraged After 9-Year-Old Son Left Sleeping, Locked on School Bus for Hours Alone

A 9-year-old Detroit boy was allegedly left behind on a school bus for nearly six hours, sparking outrage and concern over the safety protocols of the school transportation system. 

The boy’s mother, Tashonda Bennett, said she remains furious over the incident in which her older son found the younger boy asleep on the bus around 9:30 p.m. after he didn’t come home as expected hours earlier.

Detroit Mother Outraged After 9-Year-Old Son Left Sleeping, Locked on School Bus for Hours Alone
Tashonda Bennett is demanding answers after her son was left on the school bus alone for several hours. (Photo: YouTube screenshot/Fox 2 Detroit)

“I just don’t know what to do. I feel like my son shouldn’t have had to go through that,” Bennett said, according to Fox2. 

The boy, who attends Detroit Service Learning Academy, got on the school bus Wednesday, June 5, in the morning with his 14-year-old sister, made it through the school day but never came home.

“My baby is 9 years old. He’s traumatized, he doesn’t want to go to school, he’s afraid to even get back on the bus… I feel like the school failed us. It was my child who found my baby.”

Bennett explained that she fell asleep waiting for the boy to walk through the door, and said she panicked when she woke up around 7 p.m. and saw he still hadn’t made it home from school, which let out at noon that day.

With her heart racing, Bennett called several places where she thought the boy might be.

She spoke to school and police officials, as well as her relatives, and within minutes, she had the bus driver on the phone.

Bennett blamed the bus driver, saying he would have noticed the child still on the bus if he had followed protocol. 

“The bus driver didn’t even come here,” she said. “He told me that my son did not get on the bus, which means he never knew that my son was even back there asleep. That’s what makes me think that he didn’t do his walk-through.”

The boy’s older sister, who usually accompanies him home, said she saw her brother get on the bus, but she stayed after school for practice that day, which led to an hours-long scramble to locate the missing boy.

“The police didn’t find my child, the school didn’t know where my son was,” Bennett said, while her daughter “kept stressing to me — ‘mom I put him on the bus.’”

After searching for hours, family members finally thought to check the bus. There, the boy’s brother and grandmother found him sound asleep well after sunset.

The bus was locked, so the boy’s 16-year-old brother had to lift him out through a hatch on top of the bus.

“He was asleep. I was banging on the window. He woke up, he was wiping his eyes, looking around, and he just started crying,” the brother said. “I knew there was a hatch, so I opened the hatch.”

Detroit police confirmed the ordeal was over and that the boy was found safe.

“It takes the police, and it takes the community acting together in this situation, my officers collaborated with the grandmother. The grandmother went to one location, while the officers were handling business here,” the Detroit police chief said in a statement.

It was not clear whether the bus driver involved would face discipline as Service Learning District Superintendent DeAngelo Alexander did not immediately respond to questions from the media about the next steps.

Instead, Alexander issued a statement emphasizing the unusual nature of the incident and vowing to review district safety policies.

“We are addressing this matter with the staff involved. Additionally, we will be conducting a thorough review of our policies and procedures to ensure that our practices are aligned with the highest standards in the transportation industry,” according to the statement.

The incident is reminiscent of a terrifying incident that occurred in Miami one year ago when 6-year-old Unyik Pollydore fell asleep on her school bus during the morning commute but never woke up as her peers exited the bus at school. 

The driver left the school without checking the bus and parked six miles away, leaving the child stranded in a Hialeah parking lot, where she awoke dehydrated, alone, and afraid.

The small girl jumped out of a window and ran for help.

She wandered from the parking lot and went missing for more than an hour before she was finally spotted by a good Samaritan who called police.

The school texted the girl’s mother saying her daughter was marked absent from school that day, unaware that she had been inadvertently abandoned by the driver who worked for the private busing company that has served the district for eight years.

The driver in that incident was fired but was never cited by police or charged criminally.

Back in Detroit, Bennett expressed determination to hold someone accountable for what happened to her son.

“I just don’t know what to do, but I can’t let this slide. I can’t,” she said.

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