The Calcasieu Parish School Board is investigating what happened when a 3-year-old student from J.D. Clifton Head Start was left on a school bus for around seven hours on Wednesday. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, January 19, 2013 8:14 PM
A J.D. Clifton Head Start student is out of the hospital and an investigation has been launched after the toddler was left unattended on a Calcasieu Parish school bus for several hours Wednesday.
The bus driver and bus monitor have been suspended, Superintendent Wayne Savoy said Thursday, and the school system’s risk management and transportation departments will investigate the matter.
Darren St. Romain, 3, got on the bus with his twin brother at about 7 a.m. Wednesday but did not get off with the other students when they were dropped off at school. Darren’s mother, Yessenia Williams, said the bus driver, who regularly picks up her sons for school, found Darren on the bus at about 2 p.m.
She said the driver found him “quietly sitting in his seat” and that she was immediately called to come to the school. Williams arrived about five minutes later to pick him up. He was later taken to a hospital by his nanny.
The child was dehydrated with a lowered temperature but suffered no other health concerns, Williams said. She said his oxygen level was also fine.
The incident was the latest in a string of problem incidents this school year involving school transportation. Last fall, a Washington-Marion High dance team member was intentionally left at Walmart after a confrontation with the team sponsor.
In December, a Brentwood Elementary student, 6, was accidentally allowed on a day care bus instead of the school bus that was supposed to take him home after school. This month, a substitute driver was arrested for drinking and driving; he had just transported 49 Calcasieu schoolchildren to their schools before being pulled over.
District 2 board member Fredman Hardy said he still has confidence in the transportation department but that there are “still some things that need to be tightened up.”
Williams said she believed the reason his teacher did not make an inquiry about a missing student is because Darren has sickle cell anemia and frequently misses school for treatment. She also said his twin brother did not notice he was missing because they do not sit together on the bus and are in different classes.
“With the bus driver, she knows I have twins and she’s seen the twins, so I don’t know why she didn’t notice one of them was missing,” Williams said. “Since the kids aren’t in the same classroom sometimes I think it’s my fault because if I had them in the same classroom his brother would have known.”
Director of Transportation Andy Ardoin said that after children are dropped off at Clifton Elementary, the buses are taken to S.J. Welsh Middle School until drivers return to pick up students after school.
Williams said she was told by J.D. Clifton Head Start Director Lisa Causey and a bus coordinator that her son either fell asleep or crawled under a seat when the children were being dropped off. Both Causey and J.D. Clifton Elementary Principal Pamela Bell declined comment.
“There are procedures that have to be followed, and we are investigating it,” Savoy said. “There is no reason with these protocols that we have in place that a child should be left on a bus.”
After the incident, Williams said Causey had been in contact with her to make sure she and her son were doing well. Darren and his brother were brought to school by their grandmother Thursday and later picked up by Williams. She said she would like for the school to have a system to call parents if students do not show up for class.
“I feel like they need to have a system to check and make sure that your kids got to school ... some schools have that,” she said. “I was glad he was OK; I was just thinking about what was he was doing on the bus and thinking about that I wasn’t there.”
State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education rules say that “a trip inspection must be conducted after each trip or individual run to check for passengers ... that may have been left on the bus” and that local education agencies “shall develop and provide pre-trip and post-trip inspection report forms to all school bus drivers and develop a system for collection and evaluation of the data.”
Posted By: joseph landry111 On: 1/21/2013
What they ought to do is put pray back in the school systems even for the care takers of our children...i beleive with all my heart that pray changes things...and yes God sheilded kept and covered this baby
Posted By: Doug On: 1/18/2013
Title: Bus Inspections
The last paragraph in the article is a "no-brainer", and each time something like this happens heads should roll.
Posted By: Albert On: 1/17/2013
They need to be fired
Posted By: Dolyal St.Romain On: 1/17/2013
I think that the bus driver should be fired an action should be taken as seriouse as possible as the father of the three year old child left on the bus I couldnt sleep at all thinking would I do on a bus for seven hours with nothing to eat or drink no heat or guardian god him self had to be on that bus with my son its has cause A great deal of emotional stress for my family an I put your self in Darren shoes I would like the person reasonable punish I Dolyal St.Romain Sr.