Local News

First-grader dropped off at wrong bus stop

Posted September 8, 2008 11:09 p.m. EDT
Updated September 9, 2008 7:22 a.m. EDT

— A Wake County parent says her first-grader was dropped off at the wrong bus stop one day last week. It is the latest in a string of similar complaints filed by parents of young bus riders.

Porsha Garrett said that for more than 30 minutes Thursday, no one knew where her son, Omarion, was.

"I was kinda scared,” Omarion Garrett said.

Garrett said it all began when she went to pick up Omarion at his bus stop Thursday after his first day of school at Stough Elementary on Edwards Mill Road in Raleigh.

“My son isn't here. I am waiting. I am standing. I am standing. I am waiting,” Garrett recalled.

Garrett called Stough Elementary and said she was told school officials did not know where Omarion was either.

"Oh my God, I have never been so scared in all my life,” she said.

More than 30 minutes later, a stranger called and said he had Omarion and that the 6-year-old was safe. Garrett said Omarion had been dropped off at a bus stop further down the road and wandered about alone until the stranger found him.

“He was very upset. He was shaking. He was, 'Momma, oh momma, I am glad that you got me,'” she said.

Garrett said an identification card Omarion's school uses helped find her son. All Wake County kindergartners and first-graders got an identification card on the first day of school this year. It has the school's name, student's name, bus stop location and route printed on it.

The ID badges were designed to help reduce confusion, which can occur with almost 900 school buses making 25,000 stops to pick up nearly 70,000 students. In nearly all of those stops, parents say bus drivers get their children to school and back home safely.

“I can almost set my watch by her (bus driver),” parent Amy Youngquist said.

However, if your child is suddenly nowhere to be found, Garrett said, it can be hard to trust the system again.

"The first day I sent my son to school, I don't even know if he is going to come back,” Garrett said.

Omarion isn't the first student to report being left at the wrong bus stop. There were two incidents over the summer with year-round students. A 5-year-old was dropped off at a bus stop miles from home, and a 6-year-old was dropped off at the wrong time – also far from his home.

One bus driver resigned and the other was disciplined. In response to the incidents, every bus driver attended a training session over the summer. It re-emphasized the procedures and practices for picking-up and dropping-off students.

School officials said they are investigating Omarion's incident.