Special Needs Student Left Alone On Bus For 3 Hours

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Southwest Side woman said her grandson, a special needs child, could have died. The boy was left on a school bus for hours and nobody noticed.

As CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports, it happened earlier this month when it was unseasonably hot.

“He might have drifted off into a sleep. You know, I mean, you don’t do an animal like that!” Ruthel Crosby said, sobbing as she thought about what could have happened if her grandson Travis was never found on a stifling hot school bus, where he had been left alone.

“It’s like leaving a baby alone. Babies, they’re going to cry, but he was just … they found him just sitting there,” Crosby said.

Travis is a 7th grader and special needs student at Ashburn Community Elementary School. His grandmother has custody of Travis and his three siblings, because his mother was addicted to drugs.

That drug abuse left Travis suffering from mental and physical problems. On Oct. 5, his grandmother watched him get on the bus with his sister. An hour later, a teacher realized his sister was at school, but Travis wasn’t.

“The teacher thought enough to call the parent to find out where’s the brother of that sister,” teacher Mario Weston said. “We don’t know what we would have done, had she not set off the alarm so that the principal could set her investigation into motion.”

That’s when someone from the school went to the bus yard and found Travis on the bus, more than three hours from the time he’d left for school.

The school nurse diagnosed him as having dehydration and disorientation.

“I want to see justice for it, because it could happen to another kid,” Crosby said.

Representatives of the bus company, White Transportation, refused to comment, referring calls to the Chicago Public Schools.

A CPS spokesperson said the bus aide and driver have been suspended from their route. The company also was fined $5,000 and the company’s training procedures were being reviewed to prevent this type of incident from happening again.

–CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman contributed to this report.

  • Roberta Waker

    This has happened before and it will probably happen again. Bus drivers need to check their buses BEFORE they leave in the morning to pick up students; AGAIN after they drop off all students at the school; AGAIN when leaving the barn to pick up students to take them home and FINALLY after all students are returned home and before they return to the barn. If the law states they have to stop a bus on the RR tracks, open the doors to check for trains (a stupid law by the way); why doesn’t the law mandate these checks of the bus which are common sense? Hope the driver and her associate are NEVER allowed on a school bus again. Hope this little boy will be ok.

  • v

    That is a requirement with the state that when you first get on your bus, you must pre-trip your bus. That also include walking to the back of the bus to activate to alarm, that means pulling up the handle on the back door to make sure that the alarm is working. Also you must activate your eight ways. Now if this was done when the driver parked that bus he/she would have had to walk to back of that bus to de-activate the alarm. So, the driver never fully pre-tripped his bus because if so the alarm would have sounded off. I’m a bus driver and we are trained to do this procedure. So people is lazy and don’ want to walk to the back of the bus.

  • Roger

    I don’t know about the driver, but the aide is still working. Probably because it is his FAMILY’s company. The aide walked students into the school last week. White Transportation is disgraceful. They have repeatedly not picked up students, lied about parents/students not being at the bus stops on time, changed bus numbers, drivers, and routes without informing the school or parents, and then this. Worst of all, they are in court trying to blame the TEACHER – when the student was never delivered to the school!! CPS needs to drop the company’s contract. God only knows what other shortcuts White Transportation is taking, and I have multiple students that ride with them twice a day.

  • Jean

    I am not the typical “sue happy” American but in this case I strongly urge a lawsuit. Take that company for all their worth and send a message to the other bus companies. Also, I take down bus numbers and report when I notice a driver on the phone. Don’t mess with my babies life and that includes other peoples babies too.

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