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New Jersey lawyer focusing on special education law and employment law

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The Forgotten Kids on the School Bus

Last week, a bus driver and a bus aide picked up a 4 year old child with disabilities in Jersey City, New Jersey, to be taken to an extended-year school program (“ESY”). But the child never arrived at school that day. Instead, the child was stuck on the bus at a bus storage yard. Both the bus drivers and the bus aide had “forgotten” the child. A bus mechanic discovered that the child was on the bus for four hours during the week’s heat wave when outside temperatures reached 100 degrees. (Temperatures inside vehicles can be much hotter than outside temperatures, and this can be fatal.)

Fortunately, the child was not harmed and was quickly released from the hospital. According to various report, both the bus driver and aide have been terminated and now face criminal charges.

Seriously, is it possible to “forget” that a child was on the bus? Bloggers and commenters are contemplating how this is possible — and criticizing both the bus driver and aide. See here and there.

School Bus

Unfortunately, such incidences happen too often. A quick Google search reveals the following incidences:

* In May 2011, a special needs child in kindergarten was locked in the bus alone for four hours.

* In July 2010, a special needs child was left on the bus for one hour in the bus depot.

* In 2009, a 22-year old special needs student spent 17 hours on a bus parked in a Brooklyn, New York, bus yard. The bus driver “knowingly” left the student on the bus.

* Also in 2009, the school bus driver and bus monitor somehow “overlooked” a 3-year old special needs student. After six hours had passed, the authorities found the student still on the bus without water, food, or his asthma medicine.

Again, these incidences shouldn’t happen at all. It is easy to do a head count and physically inspect each seat to ensure that there are no other students left on the bus. This is not rocket science, folks.

I certainly hope such incidences never happen again. It shouldn’t happen. Personally, I find it inconceivable for a bus driver and/or aide to “forget” to conduct a physical inspection of the bus at the last stop of the bus route. The bus driver and bus aide have a responsibility to ensure that there are no other children on the bus. This truly is a matter of life and death.

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