LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. - A state school that is supposed to care for some 30 severely disabled students is now changing its policy after a 19-year-old female student, who is wheelchair bound and non-verbal, was left alone for hours, according to Lakeview Woods School.
"It's just sickening as a professional, as a parent myself, as a grandparent. It's your worst nightmare," Lakeview Woods School Spokesperson Diane Odegard said.
She said that a school bus driver and a bus monitor accidentally left the girl on the bus that sat on school property from approximately 8:45 a.m. Friday morning to approximately 2:30 p.m.
The student was marked as absent and left on the bus until she was discovered when the driver went back to get the bus that afternoon.
Odegard said all bus workers are supposed to check the bus before they leave.
When asked how this could happen, she said the two employees have been cooperative and told her, "It's our fault. We did it."
Odegard said the two had worked for the school as teacher's aids each for more than 10 years. They worked separately for the First Student bus company.
As for the school, all state leaders were immediately called and the incident was reported to the Health and Senior Services hotline.
The two responsible, whose names are not being released, were fired.
Odegard said the girl was checked by the school nurse and was not hurt.
"She was thirsty. And many of our students have multiple needs. We also take care of their toileting and hygiene needs, so she was changed,' Odegard said.
Now, Odegard said they are doubling their efforts. She is personally checking each bus and they will call parents if a child is absent.
"We want to know what it is, how did it happen and what can we do to make sure it doesn't happen again," she said.
First Student issued this statement the read:
"At First Student, the safety and security of the passengers we transport is our top priority, so this incident is something we take very seriously. We sincerely regret that this incident occurred, as well as the concern that it has caused the parents, and we are thankful that the student was uninjured."
All the parents at the school have been notified and the student did return to school. Her name was not released.