School bus drops first grader off 16 blocks away from home

Posted at 10:10 PM, Jun 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-08 05:20:13-04

Janel Jennings was waiting for her six-year-old daughter Ri'li to get home from summer school Monday when she got a call from an unknown number.

The voice on the line said "I have your daughter," Jennings said.

That lady was Jasmine, a mother of two who drove by Ri'li twice when she realized something was terribly wrong.

"I went past her then I stopped and then I asked her: Are you okay?" Jasmine said. "She was like 'No, I'm lost' and I said 'Well how did you get here?' She said 'the bus driver told me to get off. I'm just trying to find home.'" 

Rebecca Gudde is an Assistant Superintendent at University Academy.

She told 41 Action News what standard protocol is when there's any confusion about a bus stop.

"Typically the bus driver would radio in to Apple Bus who would then in turn contact our director of transportation and that does happen from time to time just to verify that yes this is the correct address. If in fact there is a discrepancy then our director of transportation will call the parents listed or the guardians and just verify that yes this is correct or no it isn't and sometimes a change has to be made right there on the spot," said Gudde. 

We reached out to Apple Bus Company for more details on the incident. The statement reads:

"We have been made aware of a situation that occurred on Monday afternoon in which a University Academy student was released from the bus at an incorrect bus stop. We are very thankful that this student was able to contact a parent and make it home safely. Upon investigating this situation, we have determined that a routing error occurred in which this student was assigned to an incorrect bus stop. Once this came to our attention, we corrected the routing error to ensure there will be no future issues regarding this stop.  As an organization, we regret any situation in which we fall short of a parent's expectations. It is always our goal to provide safe and courteous transportation services to our passengers, and we will work diligently to ensure that a similar situation does not occur in the future."

The Missouri Department of Social Services is looking into what happened.

University Academy administrators said they are cooperating with their investigation. 

Jennings is still angry.

"There's no telling what could have happened to my child in those 30 to 45 minutes she was lost and confused walking around Paseo by herself," she said." I want this lady to know the danger that she put my child in and I want her to be reprimanded accordingly."

Apple Bus would not tell us if the driver has been disciplined.

Gudde said the school wants answers.

"Our goal is just to always make sure that our students are safe and we continue to have conversations with the bus company so this doesn't happen again to any child," she said. 

Ri'li made it home safely thanks to Jasmine and Jennings shared this message for her.

"I owe you so much. You may not feel like you were a hero but you were a hero. You were an angel sent from heaven. You saved my child's life," Jennings said.