Driver, paraeducator off driving route after child left on Andover school bus

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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ANDOVER, Kan. -- An Andover bus driver and para-educator are off their driving route after district transportation staff found a sleeping preschool student had been left on a bus for 45 minutes after the bus route was complete.

The incident happened December 19th. Transportation workers say the 4-year-old child had been picked up from Andover's Prairie Creek Elementary and was headed to Kinder Care just a few miles away.

When Kinder Care staff members noticed the child had not been dropped off that afternoon, the center's director immediately called the child's family and school, Kinder Care spokesperson Colleen Moran said in a statement.

That call led district transportation staff to check the bus at the district's transportation center.

"Thankfully, the public school bus driver found the child on the bus a short time later," Moran wrote.

Transportation workers say that short time was about 45 minutes. They say the driver and para-educator in charge of the bus had already finished their route and gone home when the call came in to check for the child.

The workers say they are upset the two female employees were not fired. They say they are even more angry the two women were placed on paid leave for weeks while the district conducted an investigation.

District leaders say they can not comment on that aspect of the situation because, "the school district has investigated the incident and it is now a personnel matter."

They do say, "Any time there is a personnel matter, we conduct an internal investigation, which happen in this case as well. Appropriate action was taken."

The two women are no longer driving any route, district spokesperson Keturah Austin said in an emailed statement.

Transportation workers say the women decided to leave the job themselves and resigned their positions Wednesday morning. Austin would not say whether or not the women are still employed by the district.

Calls to the two women, who transportation workers say were involved in the incident, were not returned by news time.

Austin says, "Andover Public Schools takes this matter very seriously, student safety is our top priority." She says the district has a procedure for bus drivers that includes them walking the length of the bus after a route to check for students. It's a procedure she says they will be brushing up on.

"Transportation department employees will be actively reviewing this end-of-the-route bus procedure," Austin said.

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