HAYWARD, CA – A 3-year-old girl with Autism was abandoned by the school bus company (Durham School Services) today, on her first day of special education preschool, when the school bus driver forgot to pick her up from school, after dropping her off in the morning.
Kaitlyn, my three-year-old daughter who has Autism started school today, 09/11/2013, with the Hayward Unified School District (HUSD). Before noon today, she had been taken to a completely different school than the school she is registered to attend, transferred to a different bus with a different driver, transported for one hour and fifteen minutes to arrive at a school that is approximately 8 minutes away, and abandoned at her school by Durham at the end of her three-hour school day.
Kaitlyn is a triplet. She has two older brothers and her triplet brothers. The triplet brothers also have Autism, and have been attending Special Day Classes through HUSD, since January. They are also transported by Durham.
My experience with Durham has been consistently disappointing. While most of the drivers are pleasant, the administration has continuously failed to communicate crucial information, put my own children in physical danger, and failed to safely transport my children and others, as contracted by HUSD.
When Kaitlyn was picked up this morning, I expected her to be taken directly to her school, with the exception of any stops for children on the way. Instead, she was taken to another school. Then she was taken off the bus I put her on in the morning, placed on another bus with a second driver, then taken to her school. HUSD nor Durham had my permission to subject Kaitlyn to a layover and bus transfer as part of her transportation. I had no knowledge that would happen when I put Kaitlyn on the bus in the morning. It wasn’t until the school teacher called me at the end of Kaitlyn’s school day and an emergency contact brought her home safely, that the details of the day began to unravel.
My daughter was subjected to a dangerous and traumatizing experience. When I received the call to from a school staff member to notify me that the bus never arrived for Kaitlyn, I was devastated for my daughter. Both HUSD and Durham should be held accountable for the safe transportation of these children. Durham has a history of complaints. An NBC investigation last year revealed unsafe vehicles, driver complaints, and a history of problems. Durham did not respond. It is time to take a stand for the safety of our children. Share. Share. Share.
It should be noted that our District (HUSD) only offers transportation for children with Special Needs. So, Durham knows that they are transporting children with Special Needs, yet they continually fail to take ordinary care, much less special care of our children. Is this the company you want transporting your children? Durham is the second largest School Bus company in the Nation. What if Kaitlyn’s nightmare happened to your daughter? It could. You can take ACTION by sharing this post and demanding that Durham be held accountable for violating the rights and jeopardizing the safety of our children.
Kaitlyn is not capable of telling an adult who she is, where she lives, or how to reach her parents. She does not know what school she goes to, who her teacher is, or who to trust. The driver of the second bus did not have Kaitlyn listed on her “route.” The second driver did not even know Kaitlyn’s name, her address, nor how to contact her parents. The only thing the second driver knew was that the first driver said to take Kaitlyn to another (specified) school.
I was anxiously awaiting Kaitlyn’s arrival from school when I got the call from school staff notifying me that the bus driver never returned to pick up Kaitlyn after school. I immediately asked an emergency-contact to bring Kaitlyn home safely.
About an hour after Kaitlyn’s class was over, and she was safely home, I got a call from Kaitlyn’s Special Education Teacher, stating the bus driver had just returned to the school, looking for Kaitlyn, and apologizing. Shortly thereafter, the (second) bus driver, who apparently was supposed to pick Kaitlyn up after the end of her school day, showed up at my door. She was extremely apologetic. While she did forget my daughter, this is not her fault. Durham’s failure to communicate with their staff AND Kaitlyn’s parent are the cause of today’s unforgiveable circumstances.
Today, my daughter was subjected to a cruel and traumatizing experience, and Durham School Services is at fault. I was compelled to share this story, both as a public service and a call to action! Take a stand, for Kaitlyn. Share. Share. Share. #Autism #SpecialNeeds #Equality
By: Alicia Gonzalez