We often hear of students falling asleep on school buses and being left behind, but what about students intentionally hiding from school bus personnel?
In March, we reported that a school bus driver and attendant in Lake Wales, Florida, were charged with neglect for allegedly leaving a special-needs student stranded twice.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office had said that on two occasions within a week of each other, the 13-year-old boy was sleeping in his seat on the bus when other passengers were dropped off at school, and then he was left alone on the bus after it was parked. Both times, the boy got out of the bus and hitchhiked and walked about 30 miles to his home. Police said that the bus driver and attendant admitted to not checking the bus before leaving it parked.
Now comes the surprising news that the neglect charges against the driver and aide have been dropped. The attendant, Gwendolyn Simmons, and her lawyer told ABC Action News that they believe the charges were dropped because the boy “intentionally hid” from the driver and aide so he could skip school.
Regardless of whether that’s true, the fact remains that school bus drivers and attendants are responsible for making sure that each of their passengers is off of the bus before they leave. That may include checking the bus immediately after the last drop-off and again after parking at the bus yard.
In the Lake Wales case, the school bus was equipped with a child reminder system to prompt the driver or aide to walk the aisle and check for students at the end of a run. According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the driver and attendant admitted to having a student deactivate the child reminder device before they arrived at school on both occasions.
Electronic systems or manual devices (signs, flags, etc.) at the back of the bus can serve as helpful reminders, but it’s still up to the bus staff to check each seat — and to look under them. The notion that a student might be trying to hide only emphasizes the need to thoroughly check the entire bus, every time. After all, there aren’t many places to hide on a school bus.
At your operation, has there been an instance of a student trying to hide from the school bus driver? If so, how was the situation handled? Post a comment below.