SPARTANBURG, S.C. — A five year-old girl was dropped off at a bus stop without a parent picking her up, and Spartanburg School District 7 said no one knew she was on the bus as the girl’s mother drove around searching for her.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Thomas White said there was miscommunication, and administrators are still working to figure out how it happened. White said it is no excuse, that any time a child doesn’t make it to their parent as expected it is “unacceptable.”
Monday was the first time Alyssa Sprouse, a kindergarten student at Chapman Elementary School, rode a school bus home.
When her mother, Stephanie Sprouse, couldn’t find her, she began a frantic search, even wrecking her car in the process.
Sprouse said she told the school on Friday that Alyssa would be riding the bus home starting Monday afternoon. She said she stood there while the secretary called the transportation department and she also sent a note to Alyssa’s teacher Monday.
Somehow, the message wasn’t relayed to Alyssa’s bus driver. White said the driver didn’t know Alyssa was on the bus, or that she was in kindergarten, and so when it was time for her to get off, the driver let her.
White said that all kids, first grade or younger, should only be dropped off to a guardian waiting for them.
“If they could let a child slip through the cracks, what else could happen?,” said Sprouse. “I mean, that’s a child; it’s alive. You don’t just not know that a child is on the school bus. You don’t just let a child off without a guardian, without a parent.”
There was also some confusion about where Alyssa’s bus stop is located. Sprouse waited closer to her house, at the corner of Cleveland Chapel Road and Tharon Drive. The district transportation director, Linton Carpenter, said that Alyssa was dropped where she should have been, though. He said buses cannot drop off students at the curve of a road.
The district said they transport about 4,500 students every day, and bus issues may happen two or three times a year, White said, though, one is too many. He said they are doing everything they can to figure out what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.