Autistic Child Left Alone On Bus 2 Hours-Starts to Wander Away

A Panama City woman is upset and wants answers after discovering that her autistic son was left on a bus miles away from his school for 2 hours, then got off and was found by a parent in the area.

Jessica Howard's 5-year-old son Gabriel attends Margaret K. Lewis School in Millville, so it came as a surprise when she received a call that her son had been found in the parking lot of Tommy Smith Elementary School, in Bayou George, about 8.5 miles away.

"I get a phone call at 11:30 at my place of work, stating if I have a son that is autistic and I told him I did," said Howard. After she described her son to him, she found out where her son was.

Apparently the egregious error was due to the bus driver and bus aide failing to walk from the front to the back of the bus to check for students that were left on the bus. Bay District School officials aren't pleased with the discovery.

"We have the responsibility to transport kids safely to and from school," said Dr. John L. Haley, Executive Director of Operational Support Services, "and we take that responsibility very, very seriously."

Haley says the bus driver and the bus aide were both fired after a quick investigation into the matter.

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