PEMBROKE PINES (CBSMiami)—Some Broward parents are demanding answers after they said their five-year-old mildly autistic son went missing for two hours because of confusion by a substitute school bus driver.
Kierra Richardson told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that she was horrified when she received a call at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon from the grandmother of her 5-year-old son Marquese that he did not get off his bus from Palm Cove Elementary School at his father’s condominium complex in Pembroke Pines.
“I called the school and it was closed. And then I called the school board of transportation,” Richardson told D’Oench. “They said something happened with the original bus driver and they ended up having a substitute bus driver and she dropped them off.”
It turns out Marquese was on a bus but it was running late. His father was waiting for him and left the complex to search for his son at the school, thinking he had not gotten on the bus.
Richardson said her son should never have been dropped off without an adult being present. She said Palm Cove Elementary was under strict instructions to always leave her son with an adult.
“The reason I was so upset is that this happened prior and I spoke to the Principal and he was informed that Marquese was not just to left off, he was only to be left off to a parent or a guardian which was not done of course,” she said.
Richardson said she called both Miramar and Pembroke Pines police. Two hours later, at 5:30 p.m., she said she was told by police that Marquese was playing with a child inside a gate at the Landings condominium complex where the father lives.
“He had also been in a stranger’s home,” said Richardson.
“I am concerned,” she said, “because working in child care, a child’s safety should be the first priority.”
Marquese’s step-father Dwayne Thomas said he was concerned as well.
“He is just a child,” he said. “Why let a child wander the streets like this. So much violence on the street is going on right now. I just feel disgusted by the situation. They need to take care and be concerned.”
D’Oench tried to speak with the Principal at Palm Cove Elementary but he was referred to the Broward school system.
Spokeswoman Cathleen Brennan released a statement, saying “The District’s Transportation Department is investigating the details surrounding yesterday’s incident. School leadership has been in communication with the student’s family and is working to gather additional information regarding this situation. At all times, student safety is the District’s highest priority.”
“I feel very upset and feel they are not concerned,” said Richardson. “After speaking with the Principal, it seems they are still not concerned about what happened.”
Richardson said she was not satisfied with the answers she received from the principal. She said she pulled her son out of Palm Cove Elementary and was placing him in an elementary school near his grandmother’s home in Opa-Locka.