Child left on school bus after drop-off; driver not charged

Published 9:48 am Friday, May 6, 2016

According to Southampton County’s Sheriff’s Office, on Tuesday, April 12, an elementary school student was left on a Southampton school bus that was parked at a garage. Although the parents were notified of the incident later that day, the Department of Social Services and the sheriff’s office were not informed of the event until two weeks after it occurred.

After a Southampton County Public School bus driver dropped students off at school in the morning, the driver had been directed by school personnel to take the bus to the garage. Two hours after the bus was dropped off, a child was found wandering around the bus parking lot by a mechanic, who alerted the school system.

Reportedly, Superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools Dr. Alvera Parrish did not inform the parents of the child about the incident until later that afternoon and didn’t notify the school board for two days, at which time she told them the situation was being handled.

Although it’s against the current policy in place, the Department of Social Services were not told of the incident until Thursday, April 28, over two weeks after it initially happened.

When asked about the policy regarding these type of events, Amanda Mumford of Southampton County Department of Social Services said, “They [the school system] are required by the Code of Virginia to notify us within 24 hours. If they don’t follow it, they could be fined up to $500 for the first offense, and $1,000 for each additional offense.”

Social services then reported the incident to the sheriff’s office and they interviewed both the parents and the child, who told them that she had fallen asleep on the bus.

The parents told the sheriff’s office that they did not want the driver to be prosecuted; however, due to protocol, the case was forwarded to the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

The bus driver was interviewed and admitted to being distracted and not checking the bus properly once arriving at the garage. All the information was reviewed and the Commonwealth’s Attorney advised the Sheriff’s Office not to charge the driver.

Attempts to obtain a comment on the matter from Parrish were made, but all were unsuccessful.