School board closes books on bus investigation

By By Nichole Osinski / American Press

A Calcasieu Parish school bus driver who earlier this month left a 3-year-old child on a bus alone for more than six hours

has been terminated, a Calcasieu school official said Monday.

The driver, who has not been publicly identified, picked up Darren St. Romain and his twin brother around 7 a.m. on Jan. 16

to bring them to J.D. Clifton Elementary School’s Head Start.

Darren’s mother, Yessenia Williams,

said the boy was later found around 2 p.m., alone and still on the bus,

which the driver

parked at S.J. Welch Middle School after dropping off the other

children at school. Head Start Director Lisa Causey, who

declined to comment, called Williams after Darren had been found,

telling her she needed to come to the school. Williams said

she was told by Causey and a bus coordinator the toddler had

either fallen asleep on the bus or crawled under a seat when

the children were being dropped off in the morning.

“When she said my son was on a bus I

thought it was like an hour ... when she said all day I just burst out

crying,” Williams

said. “When a kid’s missing, most schools call and I feel like

they should have that system now that this incident happened.”

Darren, who has sickle-cell anemia, is

often in and out of school because of his illness. Williams speculated

that his teacher

did not report him absent because of this. She noted her son spent

the day on the bus in 40-degree temperatures with nothing

to eat or drink.

“The protocol we use was in place and this would not have happened if the protocol had been followed,” Superintendent Wayne

Savoy said. “What (policies) we had in place are as good as we could have had them.”

Assistant Superintendent Gary Anderson

said bus drivers are supposed to check the bus to make sure no one is

left behind after

students are dropped off. “This should never have happened and

the student should never have been left on the bus,” he said.

As a result of this incident, buses to

and from Head Start were suspended for a few days until the incident was

investigated

and a new driver was found. Anderson said Head Start school bus

drivers must have a special certification through the school

to transport students. He said the bus driver has been replaced

and buses are running again.

Williams said she plans to allow her children to continue riding the bus because of the new driver and because administrators

assured her drivers would be more careful about checking for students.