RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond Public Schools will equip its buses with electronic child check devices for the 2010-11 school year after a child was left on a bus for about an hour earlier this month.
Superintendent Dr. Yvonne Brandon held a press conference Wednesday to announce her recommendation for the devices' installation, which she will propose for the school board's approval at its July 19 meeting.
The announcement comes in the wake of an incident in which a 5-year-old with autism was left on a bus for about an hour, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
Another driver found the boy after hearing him cry. The boy was sent to the hospital and released after it was determined he was in good health. The child's bus driver and monitor were charged with felony child neglect and will appear in court next month.
"I wanted all parents to know that this is an isolated incident and does not reflect the level of professionalism we uphold in the district," Brandon said. "While the incident is still under investigation, swift and appropriate personnel actions were taken and additional safety sessions were conducted the next day."
Brandon added that her own daughter was left on a school bus she was seven years old, so Brandon said she understood parents' frustration and fear. "I am committed to ensuring that this does not happen to another child attending Richmond Public schools," she said.
Twenty of the district's newer buses are currently equipped with the devices. District officials say installation on the remaining vehicles will cost about $30,000. Brandon noted that officials will work within the district's current budget to add the devices and that all drivers will be retrained on their use and checking for children and articles left behind in every seat at the end of the route.
Although some states require child check devices on school buses, Virginia does not.