Bus drops kindergartner off without supervision

RAEFORD Last Wednesday, 5-year-old Justin Chappell was let off the school bus in front of his Raeford home. His mother wasn't standing there waiting for him and the driver said she assumed she was inside.

The driver says Justin Chappell ran around to the back of the house and as she drove off, she saw his mother walking towards her down the street.

"She tells me that she dropped him off," Justin Chappell's mother Ronda Chappell said. "I don't know what I said after that I couldn't say anything cause I was sick just looking up and down the street in a panic not knowing what to do."

Meanwhile, Justin Chappell was walking to his mother's job at the Day's Inn Motel across Highway 401 Bypass, one of Raeford's busiest roads.

Justin Chappell was standing by the road about to dart into traffic, when a Hardees employee grabbed him.

"The employee from Hardees walked Justin Chappell over, he was trying to across and he almost got hit by a car," she said. "All I could think about was what would have happened you know if I wasn't able to hold my child again."

Chappell says she blames herself for being a minute or two late for her son's bus, but school officials say the bus driver violated an important safety policy.

"Our policy is that all pre-K through first grade students, bus drivers are not to leave them unless a parent is present," Hoke School Transportation Director Robert Creech said. "The child is supposed to be carried back to the school, the driver is supposed to radio us, radio the school bring the child back to school."

School officials say they have re-enforced safety policy to bus drivers. They haven't identified the driver of Justin Chappell's bus, other than to say she no longer works for the school system.

In the meantime, Chappell says she is trying to meet with the Hardees employee who, she says, saved her son's life to say thank you.

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