Bus stop mix-up leaves 5-year-old stranded

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (KSL) — A series of admitted mistakes from Granite School District officials and the family of a 5-year-old boy resulted in the kindergartner being stranded at an unfamiliar bus stop.

According to district spokesman Ben Horsely, Granite School District officials were notified on Oct. 13 that a kindergartner from Roosevelt Elementary School had been taken to a bus stop and was discovered by a stranger.

The substitute bus driver who transported the student was simply following the route and stop associated with the address the district had on file for 5-year-old Vinny, Horsely said.

“(The driver) took the student to their actual home address, where they were supposed to be transported,” Horsley said.

The problem was, Vinny was supposed to go to his grandmother’s house, which is a few miles away from his home address.

The boy had only been taking the school bus for a couple weeks. In that time, Tracy Johnson, Vinny’s grandmother, said she had made a verbal agreement with his regular bus driver to drop Vinny off her house.

“The bus driver said, ‘Where do you live?’ She took my phone number, my name, my exact address, and she dropped (Vinny) off at my exact front door,” Johnson said.

The problem, Horsely said, is that information was never reported back to the district transportation office.

“There was a policy violation in … that the driver made an agreement to drop the student off at another location,” Horsley said. “Because that was a verbal agreement, the substitute had no idea.”

As a result, Vinny was left stranded.

“We sympathize with the family,” Horsely said. “That’s a terrifying situation to be in.”

Thankfully, Johnson said a couple found the child on the side of the road and alerted the school.

“He was crying,” Vinny’s grandmother said. “I just keep thinking about the ‘What-ifs:’ What if that couple hadn’t found him? This could have turned out much differently.”

It’s a lesson for any parent to learn from, Horsley said.

“We need people to go through the official process, make sure their address is correct on file with the school so that we can make sure the student gets to where they need to be,” he said.

Granite School District officials were investigating the incident Tuesday and said action will be taken against the bus driver who violated policy, if need be.