Report: Okaloosa County bus driver leaves disabled student at wrong bus stop
OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WEAR) —
A disabled Okaloosa County elementary student was reportedly left at the wrong bus stop on a cold day in a rural part of the county.
Now, the driver is in hot water and could face criminal charges.
All three groups involved in this case are not releasing the name of the bus driver now, as he hasn't been officially charged in this case, but they do expect swift action.
It was the first time the eight-year-old girl got to ride the bus home from Walker Elementary in Crestview.
According to the report, the bus driver stopped at an intersection and told the girl to get out. She told him he wasn't at the right stop. He reportedly made her get off and left her to walk more than a quarter mile to her parents' home. That's when her parents called the school district.
School Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson said she was horrified when she heard about the incident.
"I'm a little bit upset that this child was put off the bus. I have a disabled grandchild, and I know how upset I would've been," Jackson said.
The driver was suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
"I can tell you that our transportation director was not a happy man when we discussed this. Neither was the mother, as she should not have been, but I'm hoping that things will move forward quickly, and we will be able to take care of the business that we need to take care of," Jackson said.
Both the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office and the State Attorney's Office began investigations as well.
Bill Bishop is the senior assistant state attorney in Okaloosa County.
"There are various statements that need to be taken in this matter; as a matter of fact, we have advised that there is a video that is maintained on school buses. We're going to attempt to obtain a copy of that and those matters will all be put together, and we will review those before making a final decision in this case," Bishop said.
The driver hasn't been arrested, but the child's status may influence the state attorney's final decision.
"The charge of neglect of a child would consider the condition of that child. It could consider the age, it could consider the physical abilities and everything else, so that would be a factor in any decision that is made," Bishop said.
The superintendent said the school bus drivers are coming up on their annual training for the year, and this scenario will be emphasized to them.
Standard policy for bus drivers is to take the child back to school and wait for parents to pick them up if they do not know where to drop them off.