EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — An East Providence mom is outraged after she said her daughter’s school bus driver let the 5-year-old off the bus, even though no adult was waiting there to pick her up.
Sarah Rix told Eyewitness News her child was supposed to go to the YMCA’s afterschool care on Friday but was mistakenly put on the bus home to Wampanoag Village Apartments on Warren Avenue. Making matters worse, Rix said the driver and monitor then let the little girl, named Valerie, off the bus and the child sat outside by herself from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. when police found her.
“It’s scary to think about and my stomach was twisting and turning,” she said. “Frustrated isn’t even the word. Terrifying, scared, emotional.”
Rix said she discovered what happened when she went to pick up her daughter from school at 5:35 p.m. after work. She said her child was supposed to remain there for the afterschool YMCA program. She called police when she found out her child wasn’t there, and officers found the girl waiting by herself outside the apartment building.
“One, I raised my kids right. To know if something’s wrong, ‘moms not here, then okay, let me think about this,’ but you don’t know what’s running through her mind because she’s so young,” Rix said.
East Providence School Superintendent Kathryn M. Crowley said in a statement that the district has taken disciplinary action against the bus driver and monitor, saying it was a violation of school department protocol to release the child from the bus unattended.
“The safety of our children is our first concern,” Crowley said. “Additional protocols have been put in place with the after-school programs to ensure that this type of incident does not occur in the future.”
Crowley pointed to a “communication issue” as the reason for the mishap.
According to Rix, the school principal has apologized – but she said she has not yet talked to Crowley in person.
“Luckily, she’s okay,” Rix said. “So that’s all I care about that she’s safe.”