Local News

Girl Afraid To Ride School Bus After Being Left Unattended

Posted November 20, 2003 4:33 a.m. EST

— A Wake County school bus driver resigned Thursday after school officials said she left a 7-year-old girl unattended in a school bus.

Shanikwa Bond, known as Nikki to her family, has always loved riding the bus to Brooks Elementary School until Wednesday afternoon, when she fell asleep in her seat and ended up all alone in the bus parking lot.

"It was scary," she said.

When Nikki did not get off at the bus stop, her parents called the busing supervisor. Michael Bond, Nikki's father, said the supervisor spoke directly with the driver, Belinda Forrest.

"She said she checked the bus and there was nobody on the bus," he said.

However, the parents were not satisfied. They asked other children in the neighborhood if Nikki was on the bus and they said that she was. Nikki's parents called again, the bus was searched and Nikki was found.

"My mom -- she was crying. She was worried that I had gotten lost somewhere," she said.

"We're putting our children's (lives) in her hands to get them to school and bring them back, so when something like this happens, it makes you wonder," Michael Bond said.

"We stress to all of our bus drivers and our transportation people that the procedures we have in place are there for a reason and this illustrates the fact of why it's so important to follow those procedures," said Michael Evans, spokesman for Wake County Schools.

Nikki said she does not plan to ride the bus anytime soon.

"I'm not riding the bus no more. My brother, he's the only one who is going to ride the bus by himself," she said.

Wake County buses 59,000 children a day on 743 buses. School officials say this situation is a rare occurrence. Nikki's parents filed a report with Raleigh police, but investigators do not intend to charge the driver with anything.

Forrest resigned Thursday after being put on leave by the school. Forrest had been working with Wake County Public Schools since August.