No charges against driver who left child on bus

Published 10:13 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Suffolk’s commonwealth attorney will not press charges against a school bus driver who left a 4-year-old student on the bus unattended for four hours.

Last month, a 4-year-old student enrolled in the Florence Bowser Elementary School was left on the bus after the driver parked the vehicle at Northern Shores Elementary School and never checked to see if the child was still on board.

Initial reports said the boy had fallen asleep and sunk below eye level in his seat, but the video showed the driver simply did not look behind to see the boy still there. Additionally, the video, which was released by police after it was deemed that charges would not be pressed, shows the little boy getting out of the bus by himself and returning before being found.

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Ironically, the child left on the bus was the younger brother of the 6-year-old autistic student who Suffolk Public Schools attempted to force him into the Southeastern Cooperative Education Program against his parents’ wishes.

“We’re very disappointed,” said Cheryl Poe, a special education advocate representing the Rodgers family. “We are very upset and just disappointed.”

Poe added that the Rodgers family has acquired an attorney and will be pursuing legal action.

The bus driver has been placed on administrative leave until the school system’s investigation in complete.

Suffolk Public Schools is currently on spring break, and further assessment of options in the investigation will not resume until offices reopen on April 20, Bethanne Bradshaw, public information officer for SPS, wrote in an email to the News-Herald.

Calls to the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office were not returned by deadline.