It was the start of a new school year and as usual, there was a new driver on the bus. She was an elderly woman and had been driving for the school district for about 20 years.
As the days went by, the bus driver started to “develop” an attitude and there were always issues with her. She picked Ethan up so early in the morning (6:30AM) that he did not get a chance to finish his breakfast, so we gave him food to eat on the bus. The driver started complaining and threatened that she was not going to let him eat his breakfast on the bus. I was shocked that a driver would behave as such and wouldn’t let a child eat. I called to complain and asked to remove the driver from our route. They give me lip service and said something about the union tying their hands. They could not change the driver.
The afternoon before Thanksgiving, we were waiting for the bus to bring Ethan home and after 15 minutes after the bus was late, I called the transportation department to find out where Ethan is. They assure me that it was just traffic and that Ethan would be home in less than 15 minutes.
Another 15 minutes go by and still no Ethan. I call again and this time insist that they find the bus. They put me on hold while they call the driver on her mobile. After a few agonizing minutes, they get back to me and inform me that she has parked the bus at the yard (where they park all buses when they finish their shift) and is on her way home. They say she remembers picking him up from school and that they are sending someone to check the bus.
30 more worrying minutes later, we get a call saying that they found Ethan. He was on the locked bus in the parking yard where hundreds of school buses park. She had FORGOT him on the bus and because he was nonverbal, he could not say anything.
Needless to say the driver “retired” and the school district implemented GPS and cameras on their buses so that they could avoid this in the future.
This was a valuable lesson for us. Since then, I follow my gut and am no longer so understanding. If your gut feeling is that something is wrong, it usually is. Follow that feeling before the situation escalates.