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Bus mishaps worry Waterloo parents in regards to safety

WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) – Two sets of Waterloo parents are upset that their child’s bus driver didn’t keep their child safe. One driver has been fired and the other has been placed on administrative leave.

Over the last few days, two separate incidents occurred between students of Waterloo Community Schools and Durham Bus Service.

The most recent incident involves a 6 year-old boy who was left on a bus and eventually woke up in the school’s bus barn. There’s no word yet as to how that boy was found or taken off the bus. The driver in that incident has been fired, according to a spokesperson for Durham.

The following is their statement for that incident:

“Today, we sent a senior safety and operations team to our bus yard to assess how this happened and retrain drivers on proper drop off protocol.  In the interim, both the driver and monitor have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of our investigation.  The safety of our students is our number one priority and we will continue to work in unison with the Waterloo Schools to ensure that an unfortunate occurrence such as this does not happen again.”

The first incident happened Monday when a 9 year-old girl with autism was let off the bus at her home when she was supposed to be let off at the YWCA for daycare. The girl’s mother, Nicole Luciano, says her daughter Lily has an IEP which is a set of guidelines specific to her daughter. Lily’s IEP requires that she be escorted to and from the bus by an adult.

Lily was let off the bus without an adult Monday. It’s believed that she walked to the Waterloo Target where she was found playing in the toys aisle. This path would have required she cross Mitchell Avenue as well as Ridgeway Avenue. Luciano was afraid of the because says her daughter isn’t afraid of traffic.

“She’s not good at paying attention to her own safety,” said Luciano.

She and her husband reached out to the school and bus service right away to ask that something be done to ensure Lily’s safety.

Luciano says a similar incident happened the next morning.

“Her teacher asked me to call her and I had spoken with her and she said that Lily had been let off the bus at school without an attendant, without an adult,” said Luciano.

She says when her husband called Durham, a manager told him they spoke to the driver Tuesday afternoon which would have been almost 24 hours from when Lily was initially reported missing.

Luciano said she’s disappointed in how the issue was handled.

“There’s more than one person. There are layers of security that should be there that failed. And every one of them failed at every point,” said Luciano.

Luciano and her husband say they believe the manager needs to be held accountable.

The driver and bus monitor in this incident have been placed on administrative leave, according to a spokesperson for Durham. The statement for the incident involving Lily is below.

“We have policies and procedures in place to ensure that students arrive at school and home safely and on time.  The incident in which the student was not dropped at his house and returned to the bus lot is a breach of our policy and the driver was terminated. The safety of our students is our number one priority.  As a result of this incident, today we sent a senior safety and operations team to the bus yard to assess how this happened and retrain drivers on proper drop off protocol.”

Luciano says she’s hoping for a response from the school district.

A spokesperson for the Waterloo Community School Districts responded to KWWL with this statement:

Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

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