Bus driver suspended after child, 6, left on University City sch - KMOV.com

Bus driver suspended after child, 6, left on University City school bus for 8 hours

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Thomas Foster was left alone on a school bus for eight hours after falling asleep Tuesday morning. (Credit: KMOV) Thomas Foster was left alone on a school bus for eight hours after falling asleep Tuesday morning. (Credit: KMOV)
A sign reminding bus drivers to check for children at a bus parking lot in St. Louis (KMOV) A sign reminding bus drivers to check for children at a bus parking lot in St. Louis (KMOV)

UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. (KMOV.com) – A bus driver has been suspended after a 6-year-old boy was left on a school bus in University City Tuesday for eight hours.

The University City Police Department said a mother called them after her son didn’t come home from school. A spokesperson from the school district said a first grader, later identified as Thomas Foster,  allegedly fell asleep on the bus and remained on the bus after the other students were dropped off at Flynn Park Elementary School.

The bus driver said he did not notice Thomas sleeping in one of the seats and transported the bus back to the bus terminal where he remained, alone.

Officers found the child safe on his school bus around 4:15 p.m. 

The child's mother, Elisia Foster, knew her son made it on the bus Tuesday morning but completely panicked when he never got off in the afternoon.

 "I don't understand it, I don't understand why they kept him on the bus," said Elisia, " I started screaming, I don't have my f----ng baby on this bus."

Despite signs at the bus lot that state 'check for sleeping children', officials said the bus driver didn't look around. 

A different driver used a different bus for the afternoon route which left Thomas alone in the cold and rain the remainder of the day. 

"He cried. He said he was hungry, something needs to be done about this," Elisia said. 

The child was returned to his mother and taken to the hospital for precautionary purposes.

Jim Love with Missouri Central Bus Company says the driver has been suspended while they do an investigation. He said it appears the driver did not follow their protocol to walk the bus. 

"It''s unacceptable to us too, we have a lot of processes in place. We have a long standing history of this type of event not happening. We do whatever we can to make sure it doesn't," said Love.

The bus company and the school district apologized to Elisia for what happened to her son but she said it's not enough.

"Somebody need to get fired or arrested or something. I'm going to do something about it, this is ridiculous," said Elisia.

The University School District released the following statement regarding the incident:

Yesterday, administrators in The School District of University City became aware of an incident in which a first grader at Flynn Park Elementary was inadvertently left on the school bus. 

According to the information we have at this time, the student boarded the school bus, fell asleep and remained on the bus after the other students had exited.  The District’s transportation provider, Missouri Central School Bus Company, has safety procedures in place to guard against this type of situation. However, it appears that those procedures were not followed. The sleeping student was not seen by the driver and was inadvertently transported back to the bus terminal.The student remained on the bus, at the bus terminal, for approximately 8 hours. 

Parents called the University City Police Department to report the student missing. He had been marked absent at school with a follow-up call to parents scheduled. 

District administrators are in contact with Missouri Central School Bus Company officials and both teams are cooperating fully with the University City Police Department.

The bus company confirms that the driver has been suspended pending a complete investigation. At the District's request, he will not return to University City Schools.

The school principal remains in close contact with the student's parents and follow-up contacts will be made. 

As a District team, we are deeply sorry for the concern caused to this family.  District officials are reviewing the District’s relationship with the bus company and are working with them to review policies and procedures intended to ensure student safety.  We are also reviewing our own internal safety and security procedures.  Our goal is to ensure that this does not happen again. 

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call investigators at 314-725-2211.

Copyright 2018 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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