KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- It was at Grand Boulevard where a mother said she was waiting for her child who was supposed to be dropped off by the bus at around 3:30 p.m. According to the GPS, the school is eight minutes away, but the mother said the bus took over three hours.
It was the start of a new school year Monday for students at Primitivo Garcia Elementary School, but what started out as excitement, quickly turned to worry for Jaymee Henderson’s kids, as their bus ride home started going off route.
“He took us to the airport and then he drove all the way to the library downtown. He tried to make us get off,” one of Henderson’s kids said.
Meanwhile parents were left waiting.
“I can understand with it being the first day of school, maybe they are not going to be here at exactly 3:28,” Jaymee Henderson who is a parent, said.
But when the time kept going by, Henderson began worrying.
“Once 3:40 p.m. came around, I was on the phone with transportation. I was on the phone with the school,” Henderson said.
Henderson said she even called police to file a missing person’s report.
“There was a lot going through my mind. Are my kids okay? Did they get on the right bus?” Henderson asked.
It wasn’t until, 6:55 p.m. until the bus finally arrived.
Tuesday, the school bus was right on time, but questions still remain, mostly for the bus company, Student Transportation of America, who according to parents, fired the driver.
“Don’t just fire him and be like, ‘Okay, well, he’s out of here.’ No, we need to know what was going on through his head. Why he chose to do the things he did. Why he made the turns he did. We need to know,” Henderson said.
KCTV5 News reached out to the bus company but they did not respond.
The school principal released a statement on Facebook, saying in part, “The last students on the bus were delivered a few minutes before 7 p.m. This was caused in part by the fact that buses were late picking up students across Kansas City Public Schools due to 30-minute delays in departing the high schools.”
August 12, 2018
Student safety and security is our top priority at Primitivo Garcia Elementary School. That priority extends to our buses. We are committed to ensuring that every child who rides a bus is transported in a safe and timely manner. Unfortunately, there was a situation involving one of our buses today that failed to meet that standard. I’m writing to inform you of the facts, to apologize for the concerns that this situation raised, and explain how we are responding in order to do everything in our power to prevent something similar from happening again.
Garcia Bus 5 was very late in dropping off its riders at their home stops today. The last students on the bus were delivered a few minutes before 7 p.m. This was caused in part by the fact that buses were late picking up students across Kansas City Public Schools due to 30 minute delays in departing the high schools. This put the entire bus system behind schedule. Garcia Bus 5 ended up even further delayed because of wrong turns. Our school bus vendor, Student Transportation of America (STA), opted to replace the operator mid-route. The operator in this case failed to follow several policies and procedures. The new operator safely and quickly delivered the remaining students. The students were safe throughout the situation and we took steps to communicate with their parents.
I was personally very concerned and completely understood the worries expressed by our parents. I apologize for the distress that this caused all of our families. It is simply unacceptable for this type of thing to happen. My team and I, along with Superintendent Mark Bedell and his leadership team, are taking steps to minimize the chances of a repeat of anything like this. Appropriate personnel decisions have already been made. We will also work with STA to remind operators about our policies and procedures and to reinforce the fact that these must be followed by all employees at all times. That only acceptable outcome is that every child arrives at school and at home safe, sound and on time. If you have any additional questions or would like to discuss this incident in further detail, please contact me at 816-418-8727.
As for Henderson’s kids’ bus, Garcia bus 5 ended up even further delayed because of wrong turns.
“You know, it is not just like I have a high schooler and an elementary schooler, something could have happened to both my kids and that would have been tragic,” Henderson said.
The school said they took immediate action, which included replacing the bus driver Monday and said this unacceptable situation is something they are working to try to prevent in the future.