On Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. – Ivana Polk put her 5-year-old son, Ibn, on the bus to Linden Hill Elementary School in Pike Creek.
And at 3:10 p.m. — she received a call from the school district that informed her how Ibn never made it to class.
The reason why?
He had been stuck on a freezing cold bus for multiple hours.
There is actual video footage of the bus driver disregarding two students attempting to tell her how Ibn was still on the bus.
“When I got the phone call, I couldn’t believe it,” Polk shared. “My baby could have frozen to death.” on Tuesday, temperatures were in the 20s.
Ibn’s father, Russell Pork, said his son is now traumatized.
“It could have been fatal,” he said. “He’s scared to get back on the bus. That can really damage a kid mentally.”
The Red Clay School District shared how the incident was conspicuous as multiple policies at the elementary school as well as on the bus were not followed.
“It’s unacceptable,” Pati Nash, a district spokeswoman said. “It never should have happened.”
It was found that the driver was employed by Sutton Bus Company.
According to Ibn’s mother, he was sitting in the front row of the bus to the right of the driver on Tuesday, as she watched him get on.
He then fell asleep.
It was from there that a series of missteps happened, Nash said.
Security footage from the school bus clearly shows two children attempting to tell the bus driver that Ibn was asleep when they arrived at Linden Hill.
But instead of checking to make sure everyone got off the bus, the driver instead drives to the bus yard and gets off the bus, walking away — instead of checking the bus from front to back as policy states.
“Again, the driver failed to check the bus to see that all children had gotten off,” Nash stated.
Nash also mentioned a huge sign that hung at the entrance of the bus yard that says: “Have you checked your bus for students?”
The security cameras were shot off until 1:55 p.m. — which was when the driver picked the bus back up for a run to H.B. DuPont Middle School.
The driver did not notice Ibn until 2:50 p.m., when he either coughed or made a small noise — according to the footage.
Nash said it was then that Ibn was taken inside where he was checked over by the school nurse and given food.
The boy’s parents were then notified at 3:10 p.m. – Nash confirmed.
The bus driver was then relieved of her duties for the remainder of the day.
“In our bus driver handbook, it’s grounds for immediate termination to leave a child on a bus,” Nash said. “The driver is not ours, but we can and we did request that driver no longer drive for Red Clay.”
Nash shared how over half of Red Clay’s school buses have child reminder systems — an alarm that makes drivers intentionally walk to the back of the bus to check for students disarm the system — including the one Ibn was riding.
It is not clear if the alarm was operating correctly or if the driver ignored it or if the driver walked to the back of the bus and did not see Ibn.
It is protocol for drivers to check the bus three times, at the school in the morning, at the bus yard and at the end of a run.
“With the multiple driver checks, there is no current procedure to check the buses when they’re in the yard,” Nash said. “But that may change.”
But the bus driver was not the only one to not follow protocol that day. Apparently, attendance was taken late that day and not reported to the main office — which meant Ibn’s parents did not receive a notification about Ibn’s attendance until school was dismissed.
Thankfully, Ibn did not develop hypothermia or frostbite during his six hours on the bus.
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