SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Kya Hobdy wanted to ride a school bus to her friend's home for an arranged play date. But a mile from school, the 7-year-old was ordered off the bus and left in tears in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
The Alpine School District said Wednesday the bus driver who booted the girl off the bus was on administrative leave pending an investigation into what officials called a violation of procedure.
"I was dumbfounded," the girl's mother, Amber Hobdy, told the Deseret News of Salt Lake City. "Why would anyone do that? Why would anyone drop off a 7-year-old?"
The girl used her cell phone to arrange a pickup by her mother at a church she was able to recognize a mile from their home. She normally walks to and from school in Eagle Mountain, a town about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City.
The school district refused to identify the driver, and there was no answer when The Associated Press called a phone listing for the girl's parents.
The driver's first mistake was failing to keep Kya Hobdy from boarding the bus on Friday without a permission slip from her parents, district spokeswoman Rhonda Bromley told the AP.
The driver didn't notice the unfamiliar passenger until halfway through her route, then tried using the girl's cell phone to contact her mother but got only voicemail, Bromley said.
That's when the bus driver made what officials called her biggest mistake.
"The bus driver did tell her she needed to get off the bus, which should not have happened. Obviously, safety is top priority," Bromley said. "The driver should have taken her back to school ... We're glad she had a cell phone and was able to describe her surroundings to her mother."
The bus driver has been relieved of her duties and could face disciplinary action ranging from probation to firing, Bromley said.
"Obviously, she had no idea this would become a media frenzy," Bromley said of the girl's mother. "She just wants to make sure something like this doesn't happen again. She has a right to be concerned and upset with what happened with her daughter."