A Minneapolis bus driver has been placed on administrative leave after a special needs student was left alone on a school bus for three hours.

As Fox 9 reports, Ra’ Mel Johnson, 7, got on his school bus around 7:30 a.m. on Monday before falling asleep in his seat.

However, when Ra’ Mel woke up, he was alone.

He’d been left inside the school bus, which was parked at the Transportation Services garage. The garage was nearly three miles away from Lucey Laney Elementary.

Mauri Friestleben, the principal of Lucy Craft Laney Community School, said:

“He remembers waking up and being scared because he was alone on the bus.”

At some point, Ra’ Mel managed to get off of the bus and found his bus driver, who then brought him back to the school.

Friestleben said:

“When he walked into the school he was crying, he was hungry and he kept telling the principal that he pressed the button to get off the bus.”

A spokesman for the Minneapolis Public Schools district released a statement emphasizing protocol and apologizing to Ra’ Mel’s family.

The statement said:

We share concerns about this incident and are investigating what happened and why. There were certainly transportation challenges with this morning’s weather, but standard protocol for all bus drivers serving Minneapolis Public Schools students is to check the bus for any students before exiting. While we cannot go into detail because of data privacy laws, we do apologize again to the family and want them to know we take this very seriously. The driver is on administrative leave pending an investigation.

However, Jasmine Flowers, Ra’ Mel’s mother, says this isn’t the first time her son has had an issue with the bus service. Her son was also left at the wrong stop at the beginning of the school year.

Flowers said:

 “I was so upset. I told them you know, you get a pass this time, but next time I’m taking action.”

Now Flowers is questioning how the driver could have possibly forgotten about her son.

She asked:

“You see my son get on the bus every morning and you didn’t pay attention to know that he was still on that bus?”

As Fox 9 reports, Ra’ Mel was “lucky” because many of the students who ride the special needs bus “are so disabled” they wouldn’t have been able to get off on their own.

Flowers warned:

“You just can’t play with people’s kids. You can’t.”

In December, Dearly reported on a similar incident in Tennessee. In this instance, a 5-year-old boy was left sleeping on a bus by the driver and a teacher, who were both trained to do checks before exiting a bus.

In that case, the teacher and the driver were both suspended. However, the boy’s mother said her son would no longer be riding the bus.

On the other hand, Flowers has not yet commented on whether or not Ra’ Mel will continue to ride with his school’s transportation service.

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One Reply to “Young Boy With Special Needs is Left on School Bus for Hours Before Waking up Alone and Finding Help”

  • Anonymous 8 months ago

    This should have NEVER happened. You drive a bus with children with handicaps and don’t check the bus out at the end of your shift! Really? That has never occurred to someone? I don’t believe it! That is common sense. You shouldn’t have to be told this. There is a responsibility to that kind of job. As a Driver, you are responsible for those lives until every one is delivered to the right address every time. No excuses for this. Unacceptable. I got a bus driver fired AND the Superintendant who had kept him on after other infractions. Don’t mess with my children. I drug him off the bus and threw him in the gravel road. And I’m 5’2″ and 110 lbs and female. Sometimes you have to MAKE them take action. Also called the news. It was a big stink. Also got a Teacher’s License pulled after I witnessed her hitting my daughter on the head with a ruler and calling her stupid. Some people think they can do anything. Evidently, I’m here to teach them they can’t! Stand up for your children. No one else will!

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Young Boy With Special Needs is Left on School Bus for Hours Before Waking up Alone and Finding Help

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