UPDATE: Elementary School Student Left Alone On Bus For 3 Hours

UPDATED Thursday, February 9, 2012 --- 1:41 p.m.

Van Galder Bus officials tell us that the bus driver in this incident has been fired.

Stay with us for continuing coverage, we'll bring you the latest on this story tonight on NBC15 News at 4, 5 and 6.

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Posted Thursday, February 9, 2012 --- 11:44 a.m.

Press Release from the Janesville School District:

Lincoln Elementary School/Van Galder Bus Company Student Situation

On Wednesday, February 8, 2012, a School District of Janesville elementary student was inadvertently left on a Van Galder school bus around 8:30 a.m. for approximately three hours. The student was not harmed and appeared to be sleeping the entire time. After finishing the morning bus route, the driver parked the bus in the Van Galder Bus Company garage. The student was found sleeping when the driver returned for the midday route at approximately 11:30 a.m. The student’s parent was notified by school officials. The student was transported to Lincoln Elementary School and arrived at approximately12:15 p.m.

Lincoln Elementary School staff was aware of the absence and under normal circumstances, would notify the parent(s)/guardian(s) that the student is absent if the school does not receive a call from the parent. School officials were notified earlier that the parent’s phone number would no longer be working sometime during the week. Lincoln Elementary School also received a phone message that morning, from the parent, that the student had missed the bus.

Training and best practices are provided and discussed with both Van Galder Bus Company (drivers) and School District of Janesville personnel (aides) regarding the transportation of students. Van Galder Bus Company training policy states that drivers need to count the number of students in the seats before they start the bus route and after students exit. The Van Galder post-trip inspection protocol states, “when your route or school activity trip is finished, you should conduct a post-trip inspection of the bus by walking through and around the bus looking for…sleeping students.”

Bus Aides Responsibilities Protocol for the School District of Janesville states: “Bus aides must remain vigilant for potential students’ well being” and “In an attempt to protect our students from extended bus rides and to ensure safety, bus aides assist substitute bus drivers in understanding and following bus routes. It will be important to always remember; however, that the bus aide’s first obligation is to the students on the route and any needs that they might have while on the bus.”

Protocol was not followed in this particular instance and as a result Van Galder Bus Company and the School District of Janesville are taking appropriate disciplinary measures with the personnel (driver and bus aide) directly involved in this incident.

The safety of each student is our most important concern. The School District of Janesville and Van Galder Bus Company are very sorry this occurred and are reviewing all procedures and protocol to ensure this does not occur again.


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