LORAIN, Ohio - A Lorain mother calls it her worst nightmare, as her 5-year-old is dropped off by a school bus driver at the wrong spot and left wandering around for nearly an hour by herself. Frantic, that mother waved down a police cruiser only to find her 5-year-old in the back seat of it.
"I just don't understand why you would just allow a 5-year-old get get out and walk the streets of Lorain alone," said Virginia Miles upset and emotional Thursday.
The scare happened Monday afternoon. Virginia Miles normally waits for her daughter at a designated bus stop near West 18th Street and Ashland Avenue around 3:40 p.m.
The family recently moved from Tennessee, according to Miles, and for the past three weeks her daughter has been attending tutoring classes at the Frank Jacinto Elementary School in Lorain.
Miles said her 5-year-old was supposed to be dropped off at the designated stop but instead, a substitute bus driver made a wrong turn and ended up dropping the child off blocks away near West 20th Street and Oberlin Avenue.
Not knowing where her child was, Miles said she tried to call the school, but there was no answer. She was then able to flag down a nearby cruiser roughly an hour later.
According to the 5-year-old's mother, a neighbor reported a child wandering around. That's when police picked up the little girl.
Angry the of the school and bus company's response, Miles said, "These parents don't even have a contact number for the bus service at all and they have absolutely, they, these parents need to know that these kids are being treated wrong, I mean, they're not being treated like kids."
On Thursday, a spokesperson with First Student, the bus company contracted by Lorain City Schools, said the female substitute bus driver has a history of more than 10 years with the company and never had an incident like this in the past.
Lorain City Schools Superintendent Tom Tucker made this statement:
The District and First Student bus service did a thorough investigation of of the incident. A complete review of procedures and policies was completed to insure we have everything in place, and have done everything that is possible to prevent this from occurring. We have met with the parent and apologized for the incident. This is not to be taken lightly, and we are responsible for our students safety. We need to go above and beyond to insure this does not occur in the future. Our mission is to keep every student safe at all times, and we will continue to work to on that goal.
Over the phone, Tucker said certain measures, like extending phone hours, are being put in place due to this incident.
Later in the day, Jen Biddinger, spokesperson for First Student, provided this statement:
The safety and security of the students we transport to and from school each day is our core value, and we take situations like this very seriously. We are conducting an internal investigation into what happened, and apologize for the concern this incident caused. We are working closely with our partners in the school district to ensure this does not happen again.
Beddinger also wrote they are reviewing procedures and policies with the school district to see if changes should be made and that the driver was disciplined. NewsChannel5 was also told the driver received additional training.
Miles said the last she heard from school officials was when she spoke to the Superintendent and others Tuesday. She told NewsChannel5 she knew nothing of what was said in the statements sent Thursday.
Until the "drop and go" policy changes, Miles says she's no longer allowing her 5-year-old to ride the bus.