LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Extra steps are now being taken to ensure no more children are left aboard school buses after an Oldham County preschooler sat alone for hours last week.
Oldham County school officials did not wish to speak on camera Wednesday but told WAVE 3 News by email that district staff "empathized with the family" of the unattended five-year-old and that their "conversations with the parents are ongoing."
"None of them do it on purpose," said John Stovall, President of Teamsters Local 783, a union representing Jefferson County Public Schools bus drivers.
While Stovall said the mistake of overlooking a child can happen easier than many might think, he maintained it is avoidable and thus inexcusable.
"Kids will crawl up underneath the seat and fall asleep," said Stovall. "Get up and physically and visually search that bus."
Stovall said JCPS bus drivers operate under a zero tolerance policy.
"Leaving a student on the bus is one of three zero tolerance infractions that result in termination of employment," said Stovall.
According to Stovall, the other two infractions include not stopping at posted railroad crossings and use of a cell phone while operating a school bus.
While the Oldham County bus driver and monitor involved are no longer on the job, OCS officials are going one step further to keep the incident from happening again. In addition to drivers and monitors, preschool staff will also check the school buses while also contacting parents any day a student is unexpectedly absent.
"We haven't had an incident like this probably in about five or six years," said Stovall.
Stovall credited that milestone to the diligence of JCPS bus drivers who are required to check their buses multiple times throughout the day.
"They're supposed to check it after their morning runs, their midday runs, and afternoon runs," said Stovall.
If a child is located during those checks, after checking in with the bus compound, Stovall said the student can be routed to school.
"They might get a little discipline for that," began Stovall, "but, if they go back to that compound, get off that bus and do not check that bus, then it's a zero tolerance and a zero tolerance means they're terminated."
The zero tolerance aims to ensure 100 percent safety, while transporting precious cargo all the way to and from school.
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