Bus drops off Wake County special needs student at wrong home

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Wake Forest mom says she was in sheer panic when a contract driver for Wake County schools took her son to the wrong house -- miles away from where they live. It wasn't the first time she's had a problem.

Now, as the school system investigates, she's warning parents of other special needs children.

Apparently a substitute driver played a big role in the mix-up. Wake County school officials say they are trying to get to the bottom of it, but the boy's mother says no excuse will be good enough.

Austin Crank is almost five years old, but because of Down syndrome, he doesn't communicate well. So when his mom, Jennifer Crank, got a call at work Monday and was told Austin couldn't be dropped off at his Wake Forest home because of a barking dog, she was concerned. She doesn't have a dog.

Turns out the Associated Transportation driver was several miles away -- somewhere on Wall Road.

So Jennifer says she left work to go home to make sure Austin got home safely. Nearly an hour later, still no Austin.

Austin eventually made it home safe and sound, but his mom is not in a forgiving mood.

Jennifer says it wasn't the first mistake the Wake County schools transportation contractor has made. She says there were two other incidents -- one in which Austin fell asleep and the driver forgot he was in the car. However, she says Monday's mix-up was the scariest of all.

"They pulled up to a house on Wall Road and what if somebody had come out of that house and said, 'Oh, yeah, that's my son', and brought him in? What then? What then? This can't happen. This is inexcusable. There needs to be a safeguard in place," Jennifer said.

Wake County school officials told ABC11 they expect "that vendors take their responsibilities with our special needs students very seriously." That includes making sure substitute drivers are informed.

Jennifer says the mistake won't happen again because she's made transportation arrangements of her own for her son, who attends Wakefield Elementary School.

She says she's open to listening to Wake County school officials once they complete their investigation, but unless she can get assurance it won't happen again, she won't be putting Austin back in the hands of Associated Transportation.

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