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Five-year-old with autism exits bus with bite marks one week, not dropped off at aftercare another

Posted at 6:52 PM, Jun 01, 2018

A West Palm Beach mom said she feels like her five-year-old son's time on the school bus is a black hole in his day after she said multiple incidents in one month could've put her son's safety at risk.

“Everything my child is doing, I’m in the loop," Kelly Cucura said. "Evidently, this is part of the loop that’s gotten dropped.”

Cucura's son, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, is non-verbal so he can't tell her what happens on the bus.

He attends preschool at Seminole Trails Elementary and then he takes a school bus to aftercare at Easterseals in West Palm Beach.

"I have zero faith right now in the bussing system," Kelly Cucura said. "Unfortunately, it's something I have to rely on. You have to work. "

On April 30, Cucura got a call from Easterseals saying her son came off the bus with bite marks. She received a text message with a picture of the bites, which were red and bruised. 

"First angry then in shock that somebody could even allow that to happen on the bus," she said.

Cucura said she didn't hear from school district transportation directly about the biting incident. She immediately complained to the district and filed a report. She also requested video from the bus, but she has yet to receive that video from the district.

"I really don't know what's going on and nobody is giving me any real answers," she said.

The school district said they are still looking into what allegedly happened on the bus.

Two and a half weeks after the biting incident, Cucura's son never got dropped off at aftercare at Easterseals. She said she discovered that when she went to pick him up several hours later.

"She's like, 'He's not here. He never got off the bus,'" she said. "I was like what do you mean he never got off the bus?"

Cucura eventually found out he was safe and was at the district transportation office on Homewood Road.

 "The supervisor told me she did call me. I didn't receive a call. I didn't get a text," she said. "I was unaware."

The school district sent a statement about the incident: "We deeply regret the student was on the bus for an extended time. Both the driver and aide on the bus that day were substitutes and our understanding is that the employee at the student’s day care who met the bus was not the student’s regular caretaker. The transportation team will review the events of the day to identify improvements to processes and protocols."

Easterseals said a regular staff member of the aftercare program greeted the bus.

Cucura said she stills hopes to hear from the district what happened and how her son will be kept safe  on the bus in the future.

"I want some kind of resolution and I want somebody to stand up and take responsibility for these actions and from my eyes, neglect of what has gone on on this bussing system," she said.