School corporation investigating to see whether boy or driver will face discipline
By Kelli Stopczynski (firstname.lastname@example.org
4:47 p.m. EST, January 7, 2013
A Granger couple is outraged and the South Bend Community School Corporation is investigating after the couple said a school bus driver left their 12-year-old son in the cold, nearly a mile from home. The sixth-grader’s parents said he walked home along a stretch of Grape Road during the Monday morning rush hour.
It was supposed to be Kage Hurteau’s first day back to class after winter break. He’s bused to Edison Intermediate Center in South Bend even though he lives in the Penn-Harris-Madison district because he’s a special needs student. He takes medication for ADHD and bipolar disorders
and has a ‘short fuse,’
his parents said.
But they don’t believe there’s any excuse for his bus driver to react the way she did.
“I wouldn’t sit down and stop getting out of my seat,” he said. “She wouldn’t let me sit with my friends and I got mad at her.”
“I’m assuming he got irate and from what he says, she told him to get off the bus. Basically vacate,” said the boy’s father, Brian Townsend.
Kage said he chose to get off the bus but when he turned around to get back on board, the bus driver left – and he was stranded in a neighborhood off Grape Road, just east of the JC Penney Home Store. He decided the best thing to do from there was walk back home.
A neighbor saw him walking along the side of Grape Road but he did not recognize her and would not get in her car when she asked, so she drove to his house and told his mother and grandmother what she saw.
“Just think of all the things that could have gone wrong,” said Brian. “[He] could have been kidnapped, could have been hit on Grape Road.”
“I was scared,” Kage told WSBT.
Brian and his wife Dawn said they’re most upset about the fact that they weren’t made aware of what happened until about 45 minutes after the incident occurred – when Kage’s principal called their home.
“How can you not know where my child is? Isn’t that what you're supposed to be doing?” Dawn Townsend asked. “The bus driver is supposed to know. The school's supposed to know. That's the kind of faith I'm putting into these people when I send my kid to school every day.”
About 15 minutes after that phone call from the principal, the boy’s grandmother spotted him walking down their street, toward home.
“It basically took him 45 minutes to walk from wherever he was to here,” Brian said.
Now the Townsends are pushing the school corporation for answers. They filed a police report, contacted an attorney and said they’re keeping their son off the bus until it’s all sorted out.
“I have had conversations with the bus driver, she knew the issues,” said Dawn, who added that the transportation Department said her son should probably be placed on a special needs bus.
“How would you feel if it was your child?” asked Brian.
South Bend Community School Corporation spokeswoman Sue Coney told WSBT in an email statement, “This incident is still under investigation by the school and our transportation department to determine if the student or driver will face any disciplinary actions.”
Coney did not respond to questions about the driver’s history with the school corporation, her version of what happened Monday morning and whether a camera on the bus captured the incident.
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