TAMPA, Fla. — Hillsborough County Public Schools acknowledged that one of its bus drivers failed to notice a sleeping special-needs student and brought her to the wrong school last week, Tampa Bay Times reports.
Although the 9-year-old child was unharmed, the district will conduct an investigation and will possibly discipline the driver and the aide, if there was one on the bus at the time.
Stephen Hegarty, a spokesman for the district, told the newspaper that the driver did not conduct a sweep of the bus after transporting students to their elementary school, at 8:30 a.m., and, consequently, didn’t see the child sleeping on one of the rear seats when the bus stopped at the school. The driver continued onto the second run, picking up students and taking them to their school. At 9:10 a.m., the driver noticed the child and took her back to her school, according to Tampa Bay Times.
The district is working to improve driver training, according to the newspaper, particularly on buses that transport children with special needs, following complaints about safety and morale. In 2012, 7-year-old Isabella Herrera died a day after suffering a respiratory attack on a special-needs bus, and neither the driver nor the aide called 911. Additionally, in 2012, as Tampa Bay Times previously reported, 11-year-old Jennifer Caballero, who had Down syndrome, drowned in a pond behind one of the district’s middle schools after walking away from a physical education class.
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