School: Student forgotten on bus for 30 minutes

CHARLOTTESVILLE — A child was left alone on a bus for 30 minutes Tuesday after an Eastern Hancock bus driver forgot to drop the student off at home after school, officials said.

School officials said the bus driver didn’t realize the child, whose age was not disclosed, had been left behind until the student’s mother called to say her child had never come home from school. Tuesday marked the fourth day of school for the district.

The corporation’s transportation director, Greg Turner, went looking for the child after family members contacted the school saying the child was not dropped off at home; he checked the bus and found the student, a news release states. Turner confirmed bus drivers are employed by Eastern Hancock schools but declined to comment on the incident.

Indiana law requires a bus driver to “visually inspect each seat within the interior of the school bus … at the end of a trip during which students or passengers are transported to determine that no student or passenger has remained on the school bus.”

The law states district officials must report the incident to the Indiana Department of Education within five days.

Eastern Hancock officials did not comment on the district’s current policies; school officials have begun a review of the corporation’s policies and procedures to try to ensure a child isn’t left behind again, superintendent Vicki McGuire said in an email to the Daily Reporter.

Southern Hancock School Corp. transportation director Steve Satterly said school policy dictates all bus drivers in his district check all seats before leaving the bus and then radio in a confirmation no one has been left behind. Officials at Greenfield-Central and Mt. Vernon schools could not be reached for comment on their policies.

Eastern Hancock officials have not disclosed the name of the bus driver or whether any disciplinary action is being taken.

“Eastern Hancock does not consider this situation to be acceptable,” McGuire wrote.

Police were not called to investigate the incident, Sheriff Mike Shepherd said.

District officials have been in contact with the child’s parents and expressed their “sincere apologies for this incident,” she wrote.

Eastern Hancock school board member Scott Johnson declined to comment on the situation, directing all questions to McGuire, who declined a phone interview.

Calls for comment to school board members Scott Petry and Jim Jackson were not returned Wednesday.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.