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School District Investigating Why Child Left On Bus Was Reported In School

Franklin-school-board-officeThe school district has launched an internal investigation as to why a child left on a school bus for five hours Jan. 28 was reported as being in school.

Franklin Township police are also investigating the incident, said department spokesman Sgt. Philip Rizzo.

A statement from schools Superintendent Edward Seto said the student’s attendance was marked “verified,” even though the student was not in school, resulting in no call being made to the 3-year-old’s mother.

The toddler, a pre-school student at Franklin Park School, was left on the bus for five hours after the morning route, being found only when the bus driver returned to the vehicle for the afternoon route.

The driver, who worked for Mercy Transportation, was fired, Seto said.

He said a safety procedure to make sure there were no children left on the bus was not followed.

“The vehicle was equipped with an operational child safety alarm which is activated when the engine is turned off,” he said in the statement. “The alarm is deactivated through a mechanism on the back door. The intent of the alarm system is to ensure that the driver proceeds to the back of the van and checks for children. In this case, it was reported that the driver went around the outside of the van to deactivate the alarm.”

“It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that all of the children have exited the vehicle,” Seto said in the statement. “Upon arrival at a school, the buses are greeted by teaching and/or support staff that help the students as they exit the vehicle and take them to into the school building. In this case, the driver of the vehicle indicated to the staff member at the school that the vehicle was empty.”

Seto said the child was examined by emergency medical personnel and seemed to be ok.

“We are very grateful that the student in question appears to be fine,” he said in the statement. “We remain extremely concerned about what happened and have taken appropriate steps with regard to the driver of the vehicle.

“The school district is going to enforce its contractual rights with regard to the bus company to the maximum extent of the law,” he said. “We will also take appropriate action following the completion of our internal investigation regarding the attendance call.”

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