Wake County child goes missing after boarding wrong school bus

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The mother of a 5-year-old student at Rolesville Elementary panicked after her son went missing after he boarded the wrong bus Tuesday. (WTVD)

Cannella Olszewski knew something wasn't right when her 5-year-old son didn't get off at his school bus stop in Raleigh's Brighton subdivision Tuesday afternoon.

She asked the bus driver, a substitute that day, to call for help but said he refused.

"I asked the bus driver, can you please call transportation and let them know that my son is not on the bus?" Olszewski said. "He said 'well I don't have to help you.' I said can you give me your name? He said I don't have to give you my name. You need to call the school."

In a panic, she called police and then contacted Rolesville Elementary School where her son is a kindergartner.

Administrators soon learned her son boarded the wrong bus when school dismissed at 3:45 p.m., but they didn't know which one.

They eventually located the 5-year-old on another bus route around 4:45 p.m., according to school officials.

"I was horrified," Olszewski said. "No one knew where my son was. It could have been the last day that I saw him. He could have been walking around a neighborhood. He could have been walking around a highway."

According to Wake County Schools, kindergartners are only escorted to their buses the first 20 days of school.

After that, they must look for their bus number on their own.

At Rolesville Elementary, older students are assigned to hold up numbers at each bus, but Tuesday Olszewski said her son couldn't find his.

"I don't feel a 5-year-old or a 6-year-old or a 7-year-old should be allowed to walk to the buses by themselves," she said.

If a child turns up on the wrong bus, WCPSS states its policy is to return the child to the school and then contact parents.

Olszewski says that is too long for parents to be in the dark.

"These children have got to arrive home safely and they've got to arrive at their homes. They cannot be riding around Wake County on the wrong bus," she said.

Olszewski filed a complaint against the bus driver with WCPSS and received a personal apology Wednesday from the district's transportation department.

WCPSS told ABC11 bus drivers can give out the transportation department phone number but not information about a student.

WCPSS would not say if the bus driver will be disciplined.

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