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: Monday, January 28, 2013 7:34 PM
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.
Posted By: Bob On: 1/31/2013
Title: Head/Start bus:
There are some mental or physical deficiencies that require assistance all their life. No three year old should be transported anywhere unassisted, let alone a bus load!
Solution: As part of a bus driver trainee's training, for any type route within the parish, be mandated to one year as a volunteer riding assistant on special need buses; and the second year as a paid riding assistant.
During this two year on-the-job training program, the parish is responsible for proper scheduling assuring all special need buses have a minimum of one riding assistant for every trip. In the second year, a riding assistant's scheduling would be in that driver trainee's future school routes when not needed on special need routes.
Posted By: Mac On: 1/30/2013
Title: The Big "Unanswered" Question
Here is the big "unanswered" question in all of this; why have charges not been filed against this bus driver and monitor for child disertion, child endangerment and child abandonment? If that were the parent in this case their name and photo would have been smeered all over the web and papers. Yet, the public in this case has yet to see a name or picture of those involved, let alone any mention of charges. Fact being that the "system" DOES NOT prmote equality for all parties.
Posted By: Yessenia Williams (mother of the son) On: 1/29/2013
Title: thank for everyone support
I want to thank American press for listening to my story about my son. Im glad he getting justice and also the other previous children who were hurt in the different processes with the school buses.
Posted By: JoAnne O'Quinn (retired Calcasieu Parish School Bus Driver) On: 1/29/2013
Title: Bus Driver and Aid
all buses even to head start schools are the same size. all buses are suppost to be checked in the morning and the afternoon to make sure there are no students on their buses. it doesn't matter how old the students are. even older students fall asleep. the responsibility of all age students is on the bus driver. she is the captain of that ship. even if it was a substitute they are trained and schooled on the rules and regulations. i don't know what is happening with the drivers. there sure wasn't this many problems. of course i am from the old school of drivers and formally the transportation director for calcasieu parish head start and we were not ruled by the calcasieu parish school board.
Posted By: Patrice On: 1/29/2013
The three year old was in the "head start program"!
Posted By: Bridgette On: 1/29/2013
Title: Are you serious, Teddy?
They have PreK3 and PreK4 at several schools so they would be considered students if they attend the school and to each parents discretion if they choose to let their children ride a bus. The article mentions he had a twin brother, not an older brother. Obviously a three year old cannot be accountable for another child. Who knows for what reason the child didn't get off of the school bus but the fact is he didn't and the bus driver did not do his or her part to make sure her bus was empty before parking it. I do not feel like it's too much responsibility for a school bus driver to check the bus thoroughly, a full size bus is about 35 feet long and I'm thinking that head start buses are smaller.
Posted By: Teddy On: 1/29/2013
Title: to much responcibilaty
I didn't know 3 year olds were students , since when does a school take 3 year olds at that age a child doesn't need to be left alone at anytime and why didn't the older sibling say something , I think they are putting to much responcibilaty on the drivers I would not send a 3 year old child out like that