Local News

School System Takes Blame In Two Cases Where Bus Left Children At Wrong Locations

Posted June 13, 2005 8:34 a.m. EDT

— A Lee County school official said Monday that the school system is to blame in two separate cases where a 5-year-old was dropped off after school at the wrong place.

Earl Marshburn said he found his 5-year-old stepson, Cole Smith, waiting in the driveway when he returned home from work last Monday.

"You have a 5-year-old child sitting in the driveway that's yours, thinking, 'What in the world is he doing here, sun burnt, face red as a tomato?'" Marshburn said.

The bus was supposed to drop Cole off at a day care. Instead, he was dropped off at the bottom of his driveway, where he waited for four hours alone.

The Marshburns said the principal at Edwards Elementary School assured them that it would never happen again.

Two days later, though, a 5-year-old with instructions on where to drop her off pinned to her clothing, was left at her house, instead of the Boys and Girls Club. She walked around until she found someone home.

Lee County Superintendent Dr. Jim McCormick said the school system is to blame in both cases.

"The parents made every effort to communicate the alternate site in which we were supposed to drop the child off on either day," McCormick said.

After Cole's incident, teachers tried to confirm with every parent where their child was to be dropped off.

After the second student was dropped off at the wrong place, another adult was placed on every bus.

Cole's parents hope that is enough to prevent a tragedy.

"He could have stepped down on the area around the pond and fell in and that could have been the end of it," Marshburn said.

McCormick said reasonable and responsible disciplinary action has been taken against the two bus drivers, but would not expand, say it is a personnel matter.

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