A father is incensed that his 5-year-old daughter was left behind on her school bus — and he says it’s a chronic problem.
Tristan King yelled at administrators at Norton Elementary School in Snellville, Ga., in a Feb. 28 Facebook video because the school bus left behind his kindergartner, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“After them losing our daughter for the third time this year,” King wrote alongside the 6-minute 39-second video with 1.8 million views.
“If you have adults all through the hallway, how did it happen for the third time?” the father said angrily to a female official and the assistant principal, Anthony Williams. “The first time I was calm, I was understanding. … The second time, I was mad but I let it go. The third time, my son called me from the bus, crying, screaming that he doesn’t know where his sister is.”
The girl’s mother said, “My son told them to stop — he said, ‘Don’t pull off, I cannot leave without my sister,’” but she says the driver was given orders to leave anyway.
The school official said, “That’s transportation, that’s separate,” but the father argued, “You’re responsible — I release my child to get on your bus to come to your school. Until my child makes it home through my door, you’re responsible for my child.”
The first time the girl was left behind, reportedly right when the school year started, she was found wandering around an area where parents pick up their children. The second time, reportedly after winter break, the student had been dozing in a hallway while waiting in line with other children and was somehow skipped over. When she was found, the couple says, they were told to pick her up at 4 p.m. otherwise the school wouldn’t be responsible because there was a “teacher’s party.”
“What if the next time, she got into somebody’s car?” asked the mom.
The parents both work an hour away from the school and arranged for their eldest son to escort his sister from class to the bus, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They bought him a cellphone in case of an emergency.
King wrote on Facebook, “What you dont see is I was told by Gwinnett County Police and the Schools (SRO) That I can not come back on school grounds ever again on my own. If i need to come for any reason I must call the school so they can call the Police to be there while im there. If i came on my own i will be arrested for Criminal Trespassing. How is a concerned parent a Criminal now? Yet yall can lose my 5yr old daughter 3x’s and thats ok.”
Bernard Watson, the director of community relations at Gwinnett County Public Schools, shared a letter from Principal Melania Lee with Yahoo Lifestyle:
“…There is no question that ensuring that students get to and from school safely is the school and the school system’s responsibility. With that in mind, school leaders worked with the parents that afternoon to put a plan in place to ensure this type of situation would not occur again. Since then, I have reviewed dismissal procedures with our school’s staff, including teachers, office staff, and administrators. I have also met with our school’s front office and assistant principals regarding how to better work with concerned parents…”
Per Lee’s letter, “At no time was this parent issued a criminal trespass warning, he is free to come and go to the school like any other parent. That said, it is never appropriate for a parent or adult to use foul language around students or toward school staff.”
In the future, a school escort will reportedly walk King’s daughter onto the bus. The family could not be reached for comment by Yahoo Lifestyle.
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