The incident took place on Jan. 23 in Panama City.
Bay District Schools said that the driver found the sleeping student on the bus when he reboarded the bus to drive his afternoon route around 1:30 p.m. The student was returned safely to his or her family.
An investigation has been launched.
“Words cannot express how sorry I am that something like this happened,” Superintendent Bill Husfelt said in a statement obtained by the Panama City News-Herald.
“I simply cannot imagine how this little boy’s mom felt when she got that call and I just can’t excuse something like this. What I can tell you is that this is an isolated incident, which doesn’t make it any less awful, and I can tell you that our bus drivers work very hard each day to care of our children, but this is simply inexcusable.”
District protocols require drivers to check each seat on the bus at the end of every route.
The driver will face disciplinary action that could include getting fired. In addition to a district investigation, the Department of Children and Families and local law enforcement are conducting investigations.
Bus driver suspended after 2nd grader fails to get off for school, is found sleeping alone on bus hours later https://t.co/3STyp5xrDH
— The News Herald (@The_News_Herald) January 23, 2019
Delaware Boy Left Alone on Bus
A similar situation took place in Delaware this week when a 5-year-old kindergartner fell asleep on his bus and never got off.
The bus driver in that case also failed to check all the seats and it wasn’t until seven hours later that the boy was found.
A spokeswoman for the Red Clay School District told NBC 10 that the district also made a mistake by not alerting the boy’s parents when he didn’t show up for class.
“Clearly that was a fail on our part,” Pati Nash of the Red Clay School District said. “The mom and the dad should have been notified.”
Five-year-old Ibn Polk says he was scared and is afraid to get back on the school bus after being left aboard for seven hours in dangerously cold temperatures when the bus driver allegedly failed to make sure he had gotten off. https://t.co/zrukUlH4KF pic.twitter.com/LZIECSIWMY
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) January 24, 2019
The driver finally noticed that the boy was still on the bus when she began starting her afternoon route and heard him cough.
The boy’s parents were not happy.
“She could have came back to the bus,” said the boy’s father, Abdul Polk. “What you want a dead child now? It was cold. It was freezing.”
The driver was fired.
— KBTX News (@KBTXNews) January 20, 2019
Investigation Launched in Texas
Earlier in January another elementary school student was left on a bus, prompting an investigation.
The student was left on a bus sometime during the week of Jan. 14 through Jan. 18, Somerville ISD Superintendent Karla Sparks confirmed to KBTX.
The length of time the student was left on the bus wasn’t clear.
The child was ultimately found and was safe.
“We are working with them (authorities) through the investigation at this time,” Sparks said in a statement on the school district’s website. “The safety and well being of SISD students is our number one concern and we are reviewing our current procedures and practices to ensure this type of incident never happens again.”