WATERLOO, Iowa — A student with autism went missing for two hours recently after she was dropped off by mistake at her home instead of at her daycare provider.

The 9-year-old girl, whose mother told The Courier is prone to wandering and is “verbal but not very communicative,” reportedly left the vacant house after she was dropped off, and walked a mile, possibly crossing a number of busy roads, to go to a Target store. (KCRG reports that the incident occurred on July 8.) She was supposed to arrive on a bus at the YWCA for daycare by 11:15 a.m., but was placed on the wrong bus at her school, following the first day of summer school, and taken home.

The girl’s mother added that her daughter was wearing a lanyard indicating her assigned bus routes, and that her individualized education program says that she should be accompanied by an adult when leaving the bus, according to The Courier.

A daycare staff member called the school bus contractor, Durham School Services, and then called the girl’s parents and the police after finding out that she had been taken home. The parents and their daughter were reunited after Target reported an unaccompanied girl in a toy aisle at approximately 1 p.m., according to the news source.

Tara Thomas, a spokeswoman for Waterloo Community School District, told The Courier that the district subcontracts with Durham and will work with the company "to determine what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Edward Flavin, director of communications for National Express, Durham’s parent company, told the news source that Durham is investigating the incident and is working with the district “to resolve this concerning matter to ensure it does not happen again.”

About the author
Nicole Schlosser

Nicole Schlosser

Former Executive Editor

Nicole was an editor and writer for School Bus Fleet. She previously worked as an editor and writer for Metro Magazine, School Bus Fleet's sister publication.

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