BOWIE, Md. - Prince George's County Public Schools had yet another school bus mix-up on Thursday. A 3-year-old girl wasn’t dropped off at her daycare after school and her family didn’t know where she was for more than two hours.
Not only was the child not dropped off at her daycare, but a different employee and not her assigned bus driver ended up driving her home.
Three-year-old Symphani attends Chapel Forge Early Childhood Center in Bowie and Thursday was the first day she rode the bus.
School ended at noon for Symphani, but she didn’t make it home until after 2 p.m. During the whole time, her family had no idea where she was. They were so worried that they called the police.
The teacher and principal said the child was put on the bus, but the transportation office said they had no record of her.
When the child finally got home, the family was told the bus driver could not find the daycare. A spokesperson for the school district said buses don't have GPS systems, but they do have radios. However, the driver never called in for help.
Instead, he kept Symphani on the bus until all other students were dropped off and then took her back to the bus depot with him. That is when another employee offered to take her home.
“So they took her back to the bus lot, which is totally against protocol,” said Mary Bracey, Symphani’s grandmother. “What they should have done is taken her back to the school. They of course had our phone number and my daughter’s telephone number.
“She’s 3 years old. There’s no way that she should be not accounted for. She’s supposed to be in a car seat on the school bus. She’s supposed have an aide. She had none of that and she rode around for almost two hours with no air conditioning.”
“This is not normal and this is not good,” said Ear Bracey, Symphani’s grandfather. “They didn’t follow none of the protocols. Like they said, they could have called. There was an aide on the bus, cell phones work, they have two-way communication.”
Sherrie Johnson, a spokesperson for Prince George’s County Public Schools, said in a statement, “While the majority of our trips are completed successfully each day in this incident the district did not get it right. We deeply regret the error and want to assure the school community that we are taking measures to make sure our students continue to be transported in a safe and timely manner.”
The bus driver and the child's aide have been reprimanded and all procedures are being reviewed with bus drivers after Thursday’s incident.
Prince George's County Public Schools has had at least four school bus mix-ups since the start of school year.