By EMMALEE C. TORISK
On Thursday morning, like most every other morning, 4-year-old Adianez Gonzalez got on the school bus that would take her to Campbell Memorial Preschool.
But at some point after boarding the bus at 7:45 a.m., Adianez fell asleep.
No one noticed until after the bus already had dropped off all other students at the school and was in the midst of refueling. So, instead of arriving at school by 8:15 a.m., as she normally does, Adianez showed up at 9:15 a.m.
Adianez’s tardiness warranted a concerned phone call from her teacher to her mother, Jahaira Quinonez, who also was contacted later by Matthew Bowen, superintendent of Campbell City Schools.
Bowen expressed his apologies for the incident, and added that the “safety and welfare” of the district’s students must always be its first priority.
“Do children fall asleep on the bus? Absolutely,” he said. “That’s why it’s so vitally important that our drivers check their buses after each and every route. ... It’s never the fault of the child. The accountability lies with our adults.”
Bowen said the incident is part of an ongoing investigation, but that more details still are needed for the district to appropriately discipline its employee.
In addition, the district soon will re-examine its safety policies and procedures regarding transportation in an attempt to make sure that “these types of events do not transpire again,” he said.
Carlos Gonzalez, Adianez’s father, said he’s disappointed with the district, and in particular with those who failed to properly “go through all the rows to see if there were any kids left there” on the bus.
He said he simply doesn’t understand how his daughter got left behind and awakened in a foreign place.
“When you drop these kids off at the school, your job is to make sure these kids [get off the bus]. That’s a big responsibility,” he said.
“They’re playing with my daughter’s life. She could’ve been in a parking lot until 2 p.m. What would’ve happened then?”