District responds to child-left-on-bus incident

Posted on July 15, 2010

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.

Related Topics: post-trip child check

Comments ( 9 )
  • James Kraemer

     | about 7 years ago

    The video presentation was excellent, including most the dialog, in my opinion. Would preferred the event be presented a procedural issue, not a safety issue, and no mention of what "Could have happened." Could is not did. In disagreement with what seems the check will only occur at the depot. The bus ought to be checked at each school before proceeding. Same in the afternoon, checked at each school. On last runs pulling off in a safe place and checking prior to returning to the depot, a final check made at the depot. These activities and a functioning child-check device presents reasonable assurance that a sleeping child can be found. However, can not be guaranteed that would always be the outcome. By making a guarantee escapes opportunity to give mention that all children will also be instructed what to do in the event of waking up alone on the bus at some point in the future. Some dialog work now can produce a lot less to explain later when the next child is left sleeping on one of their school buses. The purpose of these sorts of gadgets is to help remind, similar to the alert that happens in some vehicles when the vehicle’s keys are about to be left behind. The driver, monitor or a mechanic tampering with the device ought to be grounds for immediate termination, and would myself accept it appropriate for the courts to also deal with individuals that engage in this sort of equipment abuse. Management must first do their part before expecting the help to do their part.

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