A Port St. Lucie family says their kindergartener’s bus driver let the 5-year-old off the bus 2 miles away from his bus stop, without knowing.
Now, they want to know why this happened.
Amanda and Eric Zumwalt believe their son was off of the bus for up to 15 minutes before they knew about it, got the school involved, and got their son home.
They worried about what could have happened to their son if another parent did not see he was alone, and call the school district.
The young boy, Ashton, was already nervous about riding the bus Monday on the first day of school.
His parents helped him build up the courage to do it. “He was excited. we were excited,” said Amanda.
But after a stressful first-ever ride, the Zumwalt’s now worry it could take some time for him to get back on the bus.
The parents dropped Ashton off at school at Fairlawn Elementary Magnet School Monday morning, but he was to ride the bus home that afternoon.
The St. Lucie County School District expects parents, guardians, approved escorts or siblings (fourth grade or higher) to be at the bus stop for a student in pre-k, kindergarten or first grade.
So Amanda and Eric were waiting at his bus stop at the intersection of SW Addie Street and SW Exmore Avenue.
They waited at least 30 minutes.
They say their bus driver eventually passed their bus stop.
“She just drove right by, so we’re flagging her down and you know, are you going to stop? She just kept going,” Amanda said. “We got in the car and had to chase her down to get her to stop.”
Once the bus driver did stop, they say their son wasn’t onboard.
“When we asked where our son was, she said there’s no more children on the bus, and there’s no bus stop over here, and the school never put your child on the bus. Clearly, my child was on that bus and got off at the wrong stop,” Amanda said.
The Zumwalts called the school, and praised the school’s leadership for quickly turning the bus around, having the driver pick up the child from the parent who waited with him, and bring him to the proper bus stop.
Now, the family hopes other parents can learn the valuable lesson they learned this week.
They’re researching not only their son’s bus stop location, but learning the entire bus route. Had they known the bus route, they say in hindsight, they might have tracked down Ashton sooner.
The St. Lucie County School District is also looking into the situation and released a statement reading in part:
The District deems safety as vitally important; therefore, training and refresher training are ongoing. So many of our drivers are praised for going above and beyond for waiting with children to ensure their safety until a parent or guardian arrives as they strive to provide excellent service.