CORAL SPRINGS (CBS4) – It appears there may be blame to go around in a snafu involving a missed bus stop for a Broward County bus driver that led to several middle students begin left miles from their Coral Springs homes.
According to the Broward County School District, the driver did go to the wrong side of a bus stop on Riverside Drive, forcing the kids to remain on the bus. However, the district said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon, “Students who missed their stop were directed by the bus driver to remain on the bus and told they would be driven back to their correct bus stop after the driver completed the remaining portion of the route.”
The School District says the driver continued on with his route and during a regular stop in Pompano Beach, “some of the students who missed their scheduled stop, exited the bus.” The district says, “the bus driver requested that these students return to the bus, however, these directions were not followed.”
Parents Amanda Jaret and Daniel Chacon said they are pleased that the School District is working to sort out the situation.
“I think there was a big communication problem between them and the driver,” Jaret told CBS 4’s Carey Codd.
Daniel Chacon told CBS 4 News that he may have been too harsh in calling for the bus driver to be fired and said he was only listening to the information his kids gave him.
“I’m man enough to apologize to the driver,” he said. “As a parent when your kids call you and tell you that they don’t know where they at, you’re first reaction is to run out of your house and find out what’s going on,” Chacon said.
Forest Glen Middle school students Kayla Vogel, Priscilla Colon, and her brother John, say they are afraid to ride the bus after the incident.
“I’m a little nervous knowing that the driver could do it again,” said 12-year old Kayla Vogel. “I honestly don’t want to take the bus anymore because it’s pretty scary and I honestly didn’t know where I was.”
The trio, along with about four other students, was reportedly dropped off by their bus driver at a BP gas station in Deerfield Beach on Monday afternoon. The gas station is about seven miles from their assigned bus stop near their Coral Springs homes.
“I was scared,” said Priscila Colon, “I’m like our bus stop is back there you need to turn around.”
Surveillance video from the gas station shows a yellow school bus stop on the street for about two minutes at around 5 p.m, that was the same time the kids said they were kicked off the bus.
“I was like ‘What are we going to do, he dropped us off in the middle of nowhere’,” said Vogel. “We didn’t know where we were and anything could have happened to us.”
The students said they told the driver he was going the wrong way, but he ignored them and kept driving until he let them off at the gas station. The kids then used their cell phones to call their parents who said they were confused and furious.
“I was freaking out, frantically screaming. I didn’t know what to do. I tried to call school, no one was picking up,” said Kayla’s mother Amanda Jaret.“I was lost, I didn’t know what to do,” said Daniel Chacon, Priscilla and John’s father. “I rushed over there and as soon as I got there kids broke down crying, I was upset.”
Vogel said she was able to use her phone to find a landmark close by, and figured out there was a hospital across the street which helped her dad locate her.
“We are investigating this incident. Transportation Department representatives reached out to the parents of the students,” said Broward County Public Schools in a statement. “We apologize to the students and families impacted by this incident. The safety and security of our students is our highest priority.”
The Broward School Board Transportation Department is reportedly reviewing the bus’ surveillance video to figure out what happened. The parents say they also want to review the video.
The parents told CBS4 that school officials told them the driver did stop in Coral Springs but on the opposite side of the street, not on the side of the bus stop, so the students never got off.
They said that still doesn’t explain why the kids ended up in Deerfield Beach.
They were also told the bus driver has been taken off that route. Amanda Jaret said there is a simple solution to make sure this never happens again.
“They need to make sure the driver’s know what exactly where their stops are,” she said.