Local News

Police: Raleigh mom left kids alone, didn't pick up son at bus stop

Posted August 24, 2016 11:39 a.m. EDT
Updated August 24, 2016 5:08 p.m. EDT

— A Raleigh woman who school officials say never picked up her kindergartner at a school bus stop Tuesday afternoon has been charged with child abuse after police found three other children left alone at home.

Sarai Flores Lechuga, 29, of 3236 Calumet Drive, was charged with four counts of misdemeanor child abuse. Police also served a failure to appear warrant on her in connection with a 2013 charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

According to arrest warrant, an 8-year-old girl and boys ages 3 and 1 were left unsupervised at home for more than six hours Tuesday. The fourth child abuse charge involves a 5-year-old boy who attends kindergarten at Durant Road Elementary School and wasn't picked up at his bus stop, police said.

Wake County Public Schools System administrators said they repeatedly called the home Tuesday evening to reach the parents of the kindergartner. Children kept answering the phone and hanging up, administrators said, which prompted bringing in the police.

Under school district policy, a bus driver cannot leave a child in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade at a bus stop if a parent or guardian isn't there. After calling a supervisor, a driver can take the child either back to school or to the bus office.

"What we like to do is make sure the parent is in the loop and they know where their child is and they're able to get their child," school district spokeswoman Lisa Luten said Wednesday. "When that's not the case, we could reach out to other folks to make sure that that child has the support and help that they need."

The driver and the 5-year-old ended up at the district’s bus garage Tuesday and remained there until about 7:30 p.m., when Raleigh police took custody of the boy.

"Our bus drivers care deeply about our children, and they want to make sure the children are safe," Luten said.

A District Court judge set a $5,000 bond for Flores and ordered that she have no contact with the children.

Police said the children have been placed in the care of family members and Child Protective Services.