I saw a little bit about this on the news last night and couldn't believe it. A bus driver for a special needs school in my county (Monroe) forgot all about a blind and deaf 20 year old student with the mental capacity of a 3 year old that rode the bus and left her sitting alone for around 6 hours.
Handicapped girl left on bus for hours
By LINDA L. HULL, Times Leader Staff Writer
THE MOTHER of a Monroe County handicapped student who was left on a school bus for more than six hours wants some changes made in school policy and she’d like to see some remorse from the bus driver.
Paula Jo Prince was called by the superintendent of the Monroe County Achievement Center who informed her that Dina, her mentally and physically handicapped foster daughter, was found on a school bus sitting in her seat apparently for an entire day.
Prince said her Dina got on the school bus for Monroe Achievement Center like any normal day. But the blind and deaf 20-year-old reportedly with the mental capacity of a 3-year-old, spent six hours sitting in front of the bus driver’s home.
Dina had a feeding tube removed several years ago, because she had begun to drink from a cup.
Prince said, “She has to drink something every two hours and she is incontinent. This means she had nothing to drink and she had to sit in a cold wet diaper all day.”
Prince added with a tearful voice, “I just hope she doesn’t think I abandoned her, I don’t know what she is thinking. I put her in a warm bath when she got here to warm her up, but she stayed in her room all night except for when I went and held her.”
When questioned as to what she thought Dina was doing in the bus all day, Prince said, “I have talked and talked to Dina in the hopes that she could hear something I was saying. I’ve told her that if we are in a vehicle we stay there, we don’t move around and we don’t go outside, until we get help. I think she just waited for help.”
Prince noted that when Dina was tested for her capabilities, the doctors found that she may be able to see shadows but the testing for her hearing can only be done when she is sedated and the brain stem is stimulated.
Dina came to Paula and her husband, Michael, as a foster child at the age of three weeks. Prince said, “She wasn’t expected to live for two years at that time. She certainly wasn’t expected to walk or sit up, but we worked with her.”
They are also raising a granddaughter that they took in when she was two-weeks-old. She is now a Monroe Central cheerleader at her high school at the age of 14.
Sadly, Prince is now raising these girls on her own since in February 2006, her husband Michael was confined to a nursing facility because of illness.
Prince said she was told by the superintendent that the driver of the bus didn’t realize Dina was still on the bus and it was not until she returned to take the students home that she noticed that Dina was still there.
The superintendent of schools said the incident was an error she will not allow in the future.
However, while Prince is grateful that Dina is OK, she said a lot more has to be done than just having the bus driver quit her job. Prince said, “I don’t want this to happen to any other children. I see no reason for the bus drivers to take home the buses. If this bus had been left at school, someone would probably have seen Dina.
She said she will not allow her daughter to ride the bus anymore and hopes the prosecutor will file charges against the school.
School officials said the bus driver resigned from her position and is sorry for making the mistake.
Prince said she is extremely upset that the bus driver hasn’t even called to check on Dina or apologize to her.
Calls by The Times Leader to the Monroe County Achievement Center and Superintendent Helen Ring were not returned.
Source: The Times Leader