Substitute bus driver drops five-year-old in wrong neighborhood
Franklin Township school leaders say they're investigating after a substitute school bus driver dropped off a five-year-old girl in the wrong neighborhood, several blocks from her home.
While the girl is okay, her parents want safeguards in place to make sure it doesn't happen again to another child.
As a five-year-old, Kayda Carr loves to play. She loves kindergarten and she loves riding the bus.
"She does. Never had any problems. The bus driver's been great," said Kayda's mom, Janell Carr.
But when Kayda and her brother had a substitute bus driver Tuesday, something went wrong.
"She was really scared. She was crying," Janell said.
"She was dropped off in a completely different neighborhood - scared, cold alone," Kayda's dad, Shawn Carr said.
She wasn't completely alone. Her parents say a friend got off at that stop, too. But for Kayda, it was the wrong street and the wrong neighborhood, several blocks and minutes away from where she should have been.
They say the sub didn't notice until their son saw his sister was gone.
"Luckily, I knew my dad's phone number," Kayda said.
Kayda's dad picked her up at her friend's mom's. She was okay, but now, her parents want to know how this happened and worry about all the 'what ifs'.
"Anything could have happened," Janell said. "A pedophile could have gotten her. She could have crossed the street by herself and been hit by a car or, I mean, she could have just been left there."
The Carrs say this also exposes a bigger issue about how substitute bus drivers keep track of kids they don't know.
"This needs to be addressed on a precautionary basis," Janell said, "Something where they can track, you know, whether it's checking off a name and marking it to the right bus stop, something for drivers that are unfamiliar with these kids."
Transportation leaders at Franklin Township Community Schools are investigating the incident. They say they'll take Janell's suggestions to a bus driver safety meeting and say all their substitutes do carry a list of students and addresses on their routes, sometimes with pictures.
Chad Blacklock, the school corporation's CFO, also released a statement that read in part: "While we do have procedures in place to try and avoid these situations human error is a factor and it can happen. The odds of this happening increases when driver consistency is not achieved. While it is unfortunate this happened we did have a favorable outcome in that the girl is safe."
The district says funding cuts make it tough to attract and keep great drivers. Blacklock says they experienced an unusually high rate of driver turnover and need for substitute drivers this year.
He says while there are many factors that contribute to that, rate of pay (a reflection of funding cuts and property tax caps) is the leading factor.
Kayda's parents just want to make sure kids don't pay the price. The Carrs plan to follow-up at future school board meetings, to make sure everything that can be done, is being done to get kids home to the correct bus stop.