LEWISTON, Maine — An 8-year-old left at a bus stop Tuesday spurred the Lewiston School Department to put into writing a policy that prohibits drivers from leaving students alone at bus stops, Superintendent Bill Webster said.
Rachel Middleton said she took her third-grade daughter to the bus stop, then went to work. The girl had been suspended from riding the bus, but the suspension was supposed to end Tuesday, her mother said.
She dropped the child off at the bus stop at Bridge and Summer streets behind Central Maine Medical Center. Around 8:15 a.m., the bus driver called Hudson Bus and asked whether the girl could ride. Because of a clerical error, the driver was told the student was not allowed on the bus, Middleton said.
“They left her there,” she said.
Luckily, some neighbors were home and watched the girl.
Meanwhile, staff at Geiger Elementary School inquired why the girl wasn’t at school, and quickly figured out what had happened. School staff talked to Hudson Bus. By 8:30 a.m., a Hudson Bus van was sent to pick up the student and take her to school.
Middleton didn’t find out what happened until around 10:30 a.m. when she got a phone call from a neighbor.
“I am very upset,” she said. “You don’t leave a child on the side of the road, suspended or not. That’s dangerous. All the other kids got on the bus. I’m gone to work. My doors are locked. She’s 8 years old! She does not have a cellphone.”
She talked to staff at the bus company and was told they are changing their policy and will not again leave a child, Middleton said.
Webster said he was assured by Hudson Bus that this would not happen again. “I fully understand the concern of this parent, of any parent,” Webster said. “We take nothing more seriously than the safety of our children.”
Over the years, Hudson Bus, a private company the Lewiston School Department contracts with, has done a good job, Webster said.