NORMAL — A First Student bus driver and monitor were terminated after an elementary student was left on a McLean County Unit 5 bus Tuesday afternoon.
The child, whose age was not given, is a student at Brigham Elementary School, Bloomington.
Bob Rutkoski, area manager of First Student, the Cincinatti-based bus service for Unit 5, said the mother of the child called the school when the child wasn’t dropped off at home Tuesday after school.
“The dispatch office contacted the driver of the child's bus and the driver said the student was not on board,” said Rutkoski. “The driver arrived at the base (2000 Eagle Road in Normal) at the end of their route, did a post check of the bus and walked into the building.”
He said transportation staff questioned the driver and monitor and returned to the bus “within two minutes” where they found the child in the back seat.
Rutkoski said it is believed the child fell asleep on the bus and missed their stop. Officials could not say how long the trip was from the school to the bus garage.
The driver and monitor on the bus were terminated and the state was notified, said Rutkoski.
“We have processes in place for drivers to check the bus and disengage the electronic system. What failed here was the human part of the system, not the electronic part,” said Rutkoski.
At the end of each route, drivers must walk to the back of the bus, disengage an electronic component and place an “empty bus” sign in the window.
Rutkoski said the sign is placed over the back right window and the student was seated on the left side and was never seen by the driver.
To finish the process, drivers should return to the front of the bus, checking seats for students, backpacks and instruments along the way, he said.
“It’s unforgivable. We know our job and our responsibility,” said Rutkoski. “Truly, I would not want to be a parent who had this happen. As a result, we do our best every day to ensure it does not.”
Unit 5 officials did not reply to a request for comment.