Florida girl, 5, dozes off on school bus, wakes up in garage

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Pasco County Schools: Child never left alone, safety not in jeopardy

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Pasco County mother wants someone held accountable after her child fell asleep on a school bus and woke up in a bus garage.

Alexis Hughes contacted 8 On Your Side, saying that her 5-year-old daughter Kensley was on her way from Cox Elementary to Pasco Elementary for an after school program on August 27. All of her classmates got off the bus, but Kensley was fast asleep inside.

A spokeswoman for Pasco County Schools says the child was discovered after the bus went to its final destination, the bus garage.

Although they admit procedures were not followed at Pasco Elementary, the spokeswoman insists the child was never left alone and that her safety was never in jeopardy.

8 On Your Side Investigates is digging into what went wrong and getting results. While there were two adults on the bus that day, only one was facing consequences until we started asking questions.

“There is no room for error, absolutely zero, when it comes to children,” said Hughes.

Hughes says her daughter is ordinarily rambunctious but always falls asleep in moving vehicles.

“From point A to point B at some time, she had fallen asleep,” said Hughes.

“I don’t know how long and I don’t know when.”

The spokeswoman claimed the mistake was made at Pasco Elementary and that the driver and the aid didn’t realize Kensely missed her stop.

We’re told a complete inspection was conducted at the bus garage approximately a mile away from the school. Kensley was discovered and returned to the after school program.

“It angers me and it upsets me,” said Hughes.

Hughes was told the bus assistant resigned but there was no update on the driver. She wanted full accountability, so she called 8 On Your Side Investigates.

We called the district with questions.

“What if any repercussions will the bus driver face?” asked investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi. The spokeswoman said, the driver was not a regular and the aide was responsible for ensuring the kids got off the bus that day.

“That’s crazy,” said Hughes.

“Don’t tell me you can’t take on two tasks at once, driving a kid safely in a bus and also being aware that they’re off the bus,” she said.

8 On Your Side Investigates asked for the official school bus handbook.

On page 37, the district lists its No Child on Board (Red Tag) Procedure. It states it’s a critical duty to ensure all kids are off the bus. It is the responsibility of both the driver and the assistant.

We contacted the district again with this information. The spokeswoman said the driver’s discipline had not been completed but it’s in process.

Here’s the full text of No Child on Board (Red Tag) Procedure:

One of the most critical aspects of Driver and Transportation Assistant duties is to ensure that all students have departed the bus. After every run and upon returning to the compound, the Driver and the Transportation Assistant must conduct a complete inspection to verify that there is no child left on board. A complete inspection will include looking in and under the seats or anywhere that a child might hide or have fallen asleep. This is done by physically walking the length of the bus and checking. This should be done after each group of students has been dropped off. Never leave the bus unattended unless you are positive there is no student on board. It is the responsibility of both the Driver and the Transportation Assistant to ensure that no child is ever left unattended on a bus.”

Late Friday, the spokeswoman told 8 On Your Side this clause only applies at the end of a shift when the driver and the assistant are back at the bus garage. Right now, 8 On Your Side Investigates is still waiting for clarification about the exact procedure required at the stops prior to the bus garage.

Meantime, Hughes has taken her daughter off the shuttle bus, and Kensley is at a new school.

There is a video of the incident, but a spokeswoman says it’s not available for release at this time due to potential litigation.

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