FORT WAYNE – Lyndie Freistroffer said shes grateful something horrible didnt happen to her 5-year-old son after he was dropped off at the wrong bus stop and left to find his way home.
The boy was supposed to get off at West State Boulevard and Poinsette Drive after his first day of kindergarten Monday at Franke Park Elementary, but when Freistroffer didnt see him, she called the school.
School officials said the boy probably got on the wrong bus, but they told Freistroffer her son would be OK.
They said, We can assure you that he will not be let off a bus without a parent there to pick him up, Freistroffer said.
A friend called Freistroffer 40 minutes later and said her son was found walking near Cherokee and Fairhill roads, more than a half-mile from his house.
The person who found Freistroffers boy also was out looking for her child, a kindergartner who walked away from an after-care program at Franke Park Elementary, Freistroffer said.
The stop that Freistroffers son was dropped off at was a previous stop that had since been changed, the family said.
Freistroffer said she could understand mixing up an old stop with a new one but did not know why her 5-year-old was left to find his own way home.
Were only so lucky that he didnt get hit by a car, Freistroffer said. I think there definitely needs to be a change in policy with how young children are handled with buses.
Pre-kindergarten students will not be dropped off unless a parent or guardian is there to pick them up. But those kids are on the bus at a different time and are not mixed with students in other grades, according to Krista Stockman, spokeswoman for Fort Wayne Community Schools.
Bus drivers are not required to make sure kindergarten students have parents or guardians waiting at the stops, Stockman said.
Stockman said bus drivers have lists of who is on the bus and where they get off, but students are not checked off on a stop-by-stop basis.
We take it very seriously, she said. The reality is if it happens to one child, we need to look at it to see what we can do to make sure theyre safe.
Children practice getting on and off the bus, Stockman said, and students have wristbands with their names and where their bus stops are.
We believe it is unacceptable any time a child gets off at the wrong stop, Stockman said.
Freistroffer said she met with school officials Tuesday and doesnt believe the school did anything wrong.
I trust that they got the message, Freistroffer said. I think there was a flaw. Im not doing this to make a fuss. I just think that this has to be known. I think it definitely was a transportation mishap.