East Ridge Elementary School student dropped off and left at wrong bus stop

Image: MGN

All kindergarten students at East Ridge Elementary have a yellow tag attached to their backpacks.

It lists their bus stop so drivers know where to drop them off.

One student was dropped off at a location that did not match his card and that was the first of many things that should not have happened.

Tre' Phillips is new to riding a school bus.

But the kindergarten student's first ride didn't go as planned.

"I was angry, I was heartbroken because my child was alone and was scared," said Meghan Phillips, Tre's mother.

Meghan said he was dropped off at the wrong bus stop on Friday, August 17.

The driver met Tre's dad at the correct stop, only to tell him that she dropped Tre' off at another location.

He was supposed to be dropped off at the intersection at Monte Vista and Oriole Drives. But he was dropped off at the intersection of Mission View and Oriole Drives, which is over a mile away from where he was supposed to be.

"More than I'm upset with her, I'm upset with this company," Meghan said.

"They're the ones that need to be held accountable."

According to Durham School Services, policy was not followed. A spokesperson said kindergarten students must be met by a parent or guardian in order to get off the bus.

Instead, Tre's mom said he was dropped off alone.

While he was wandering up and down the street, good samaritans like Richard Tate made sure he was safe until his Dad arrived.

"I called out to him and I just said, 'Hey buddy. Are you okay?,' Tate said.

"We're all responsible for kids. I've got a 13-year-old now but I can only imagine how I would have felt."

In May, the National Transportation Safety Board cited Durham's lack of driver oversight as a cause of the Woodmore bus crash.

That crash claimed the lives of 6 children and injured many more.

Meghan said the incident with her son raises more questions about the company's commitment to training.

"I don't feel like we as a county should sit around and wait on another tragedy when it's clear that Durham has no intentions of safeguarding our children at all," Meghan said.

Durham suspended Tre's bus driver while the company investigates. In a statement a spokesperson Carina Noble said: "The safety of our students is our top priority and we are reminding all of our drivers about this process to ensure that our youngest students are transported safely."

For now, Tre will not be riding the school bus and his mom told me that the plan going forward is to pick him up from school.

Phillips said she plans to attend a future school board meeting to formally file a complaint and request for Hamilton County to terminate its contract with Durham School Services.

One resource Durham School Services created to improve safety is called the "Bus Report (Busreport.com). Parents, administrators and community members can share feedback about drivers and overall service.

Since school started less than two weeks ago, there have been 37 reports across the 171 routes that Durham provides. 36 of them were complaints.

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