There’s a troubling story posted on The Baltimore Sun’s website tonight about a Harford County Public Schools bus driver who dropped off a 4-year-old preschooler early at his rural Darlington stop Jan. 3 and left him there without adult supervision. According to the story, the little boy didn’t know what to do when he didn’t see his mother there, so he started walking back to Dublin Elementary School. His mother, Megan Brown, told The Sun she arrived moments after he’d been dropped off. When she didn’t see the bus, she called to the school to learn it had dismissed early. She found her son 40 minutes later, a half-mile away at a neighbor’s house where he ran after a stranger offered him a ride. Brown told The Sun that she wants to alert parents to what she believes is a “flawed policy” on dropping off young children. The Sun quoted the district busing policy as provided by the district spokeswoman:
“Obviously, this is an unfortunate situation,” said Teresa D. Kranefeld, schools spokeswoman. “We are looking into the situation to see if there was a breakdown in policy and where. Picking the child up at a bus stop is the responsibility of the parent. But there is no policy, even for pre-K, that states a parent has to be at the stop” in order for the driver to drop off a child.
Brown told The Sun:
“I am going to pursue this as far as I can,” she said. “I feel the school system patronized me and minimized the dangers to my son.”
The district had a somewhat similar incident just over a year ago when a Forest Lakes Elementary School kindergartner, who usually rode the bus, told his substitute teacher that he was supposed to walk home, according to a story in The Aegis. The 5-year-old was allowed to leave the school and was discovered walking north of the school, down the middle of Route 24. A bus driver saw the boy and alerted school officials. Before an assistant principal made it out to the boy, a woman driving by had stopped, guided the boy to safety, called 911 and was waiting with him for Maryland State Police to arrive.
After the incident, the school changed its dismissal policy and now teachers stationed at the doors don’t release students until they see the person who is picking up each student and they watch to make certain each student goes with his or her guardian.
Click here to read The Sun’s story on the Jan. 3 incident.
Click here to read The Aegis’ story on the incident at Forest Lakes.