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Special needs children left on Wake County buses

February 7, 2013 3:09:42 PM PST
Two Wake County bus drivers are off the road after two special needs students were left alone on their school buses.

On Tuesday, the mother of 6-year-old J.D. Baynon waited at his bus stop, but her son never arrived.

Phone calls to Wake County Public Schools Transportation Offcie and police led her to discover the boy, who suffers from epilepsy and a sensory discorder, was still on his school bus.

According to J.D.'s mother, the child boarded his bus at Salem Elementary in Apex, but a substitute bus driver was unfamiliar with his route and somehow failed to see the boy missing after his stop.

J.D. was eventually brought back home more than an hour later, but was reportedly traumatized by the event. J.D.'s mom told ABC11 he suffered a grand mal seizure Wednesday, and she can't help but wonder if the stress from the incident had anything to do with it.

A spokesperson for the school district could not comment on specifics in the case, but said substitute drivers are fully trained and certified. The spokesperson also stressed that it is district policy for all drivers to check the bus at the end of their routes.

"Any time someone is subbing out on a route that they are not used to they will get the full route details so that they know where the stops are and how to get there," Wake County Schools spokesperson Mike Charbonneau said. "We're investigating the complaints fully and the drivers will not be back on the road until we've resolved those complaints."

J.D.'s parents said they do not want to see the drivers fired, but they want policies in place to make sure all drivers know where they are going and are regularly checking to make sure no students are left behind.

Charbonneau said the Board of Education approved a comprehensive restructuring plan for the transportation department. The goal of that plan is to make transportation more efficient and to improve communication, hopefully preventing incidents like what happened to J.D. in the future.

A similar situation happened to a student at A.B. Combs Elementary, but the parents of that child could not be reached for comment.

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