Starr: Bus driver tried to follow protocol in case of wrong bus stop -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. March 4, 2014.

A Montgomery County Public Schools substitute bus driver dropped off a young student at the wrong bus stop following confusion over which stop was the right one, according to a letter sent Friday from Superintendent Joshua P. Starr responding to County Council concerns.

Montgomery County Council President Craig Rice and Vice President George Leventhal sent a letter Feb. 26 to Starr and county school board members requesting answers to a series of questions about the incident, including what policy changes the incident might trigger.

Starr said in his letter to Rice and Leventhal that the confusion stemmed from the student’s family’s recent move from one apartment in Laurel to another.

The student has lived in Prince George’s County since September and continues to attend a Montgomery County public school, the letter said.

The student’s family requested that he be dropped off at a different Laurel bus stop near the new apartment starting Monday.

When the bus driver tried on Feb. 24 to drop the student off the bus stop listed on the route sheet, Starr said in the letter, the student told the driver he was supposed to be taken to the stop near his family’s new apartment.

The bus driver tried to follow protocol by contacting the school system’s transportation dispatch to get advice on the situation, the letter said.

The driver, however, was unable to reach transportation staff because the driver’s radio was out of range and his or her cell phone was not charged, according to the letter.

“Since an adult has not met the student at the school bus stop in the past and the student insisted that this was the correct bus stop, the bus operator allowed the student to disembark,” Starr said in the letter.

The letter later said the bus driver “should have taken steps to ensure that the student was released into the custody of a responsible person.”

The incident will be used as “a training tool” for bus operators and attendants, the letter said.

Dana Tofig, a spokesman for the county school system, said in an email Thursday the child was not dropped off where the family expected him to be.

“Whenever a situation like this occurs, which is very rarely, we look into what happened and what needs to be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Tofig said in an email Feb. 26.

Tofig said he could not provide any identifiable information about the student.

Rice and Leventhal said in their letter that they heard the county school system planned to investigate the incident.

“The council would also like to understand the policy implications of this event and what steps MCPS plans to take to correct any deficiencies,” the letter said.