A better process is being put in place to ensure what happened to a Topeka preschool student who is deaf and who was on a school bus for several hours earlier this week in the Kansas City area isn’t repeated.
“We do apologize for the error,” said Kate Walden, spokesperson for Durham School Services that contracts with Topeka Unified School District 501. “We’re very sorry and making sure this doesn’t happen again.”
According to a Facebook message that Amanda Hunninghake, of Topeka, posted on Monday evening, she said her three-year-old son, Brody, was picked up by the driver of a Durham school bus at 6:05 a.m. on Monday and didn’t return to Topeka until 2 p.m. that day.
“So for 6 hours he sat on a bus with nothing to eat, drink or to use the bathroom,” she wrote. “I’m beyond mad!! This is unacceptable!!”
Walden said although the driver has worked for Durham since 2013, Monday was the first official day for the bus route that he had made a previous “dry run” where he was supposed to pick Brody up in Topeka, take him to the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe first and then take a group of visually impaired students to the Kansas School for the Blind in Kansas City, Kan.
However, Walden said “it isn’t clear” why the driver drove to the Kansas School for the Blind first on Monday and then tried to drive to Olathe with only Brody on the bus with him.
“I don’t have the answer to that,” she said.
Walden said the driver didn’t have a correct address for the Kansas School for the Deaf with him on Monday and it’s not known why he deviated from his “dry run” training.
“That was the confusion,” she said. “He had an incorrect address when he did the actual run.”
The driver has been retrained, Walden said, and will follow the “fixed route” plan to take Brody to the Olathe school first in the morning and then will take the visually impaired students to Kansas City, Kan. She said a paraprofessional will be on the bus going to and from Kansas City each day and the driver has also been issued a company-owned smartphone so that he has access to maps and GPS.
Walden confirmed that the driver had a phone with him on Monday but that it had run out of power and he couldn’t recharge it. She said Durham buses have radio communication devices but the signal from the Durham office in Topeka couldn’t reach the driver when he was in Kansas City.
The driver, Walden said, is “truly sorry” for the situation on Monday.
“Our drivers are really good people,” she said. “It was upsetting to him as well.”
In the meantime, Walden said representatives from Durham, USD 501 and the Hunninghakes met on Wednesday to ensure the proper procedures are in place so the incident won’t happen again.
“They discussed next steps and action they’ll be taking,” she said.
Misty Kruger, spokesperson for USD 501, echoed Walden’s comments in that the situation is being addressed.
“Several steps have been made including, adjusting the bus route as well as assigning a paraprofessional to the route everyday,” Kruger said in a statement. “Student safety is a top priority and it is our expectation that it remains a priority in every interaction with a student through our employees as well as our contracted services.”
Angela Deines at (785) 295-1143 or on Twitter @AngelaDeines.
Source : http://cjonline.com/news/local/education/2017-08-23/bus-driver-couldn-t-find-school-deaf-topeka-preschool-student-here-s