Special Needs Student Left On Bus

Is it an accident or an oversight? The State Attorney’s office calls it child neglect.

Sitting inside a school bus parked at Valrico Elementary is how a 3-year-old special needs girl spent about five hours last Thursday, while her classmates spent the day in class.

“Fortunately it was a cooler day, but she was left with no access to food or water or a bathroom.”

Deputies arrested school bus aide Sarah Thomas, 61, for child neglect.

Deputies say the school bus picked up the child at 7:20 am. The bus was scheduled to drop her off at Lopez Elementary, but the child never got off the bus.

The driver parked the bus at Valrico Elementary, where it was left for the afternoon pickup begins. At around 1 p.m., the driver found the child on the bus and called deputies.

Police say the child was on the bus alone, without food or water and without a bathroom the entire time.

Deputies say it’s the bus aide’s responsibility for doing a head count as students get on and off the bus. The 3-year-old was seated in the third row.

Thomas’ husband would not go on camera, but told 10 News the oversight is an accident. He says Thomas has been a driver’s aide for two years and has a clean record. Thomas’ husband says she doesn’t know how she missed the child.

Thomas is expected to bail out of jail Monday evening. Deputies say the child was not harmed.

Source:  Isabel Mascarenas – 10 News

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