VIDEO: Special Needs Students Stranded on Bus for Hours

A group of students with disabilities was left on a broken down school bus for hours

SUMTER, S.C. (WOLO)– A group of students with disabilities was stuck on a broken down school bus for hours.

A spokesperson for the Sumter County School District says the bus broke down Monday near the intersection of Highway 378 and St. Paul Church Road.

A district official says the route’s normal drivers were out sick and the substitute driver did not have contact information for the students’ parents leaving some students stranded until 8:30 p.m. Monday.

Four-year-old Nashon Bess’ ride home usually takes about an-hour-and-a-half. His mother, Shakerra Wiley, says he spent five hours on the bus Monday night.

Nashon is autistic and nonverbal.

“He was soaking wet,” Riley said. “He went through his pull-up. He didn’t get home until 7:13 p.m. He was tired, he was hungry. Five hours on the bus.”
Wiley says she was unable to get in touch with anyone at the school, district office or transportation department during the ordeal. It’s why she called police.

Since Monday, she has not heard anything from anyone.

Wiley says the breakdown is part of a larger problem of an unreliable bus schedule for her special needs child.

“I want them to be consistent,” she said. “Make sure these kids get to school on time. Drop them off at a decent time. Just be honest, have common courtesy. Let us know when stuff happens.”

Nashon was picked up for school Tuesday morning at 7:36 a.m. His school starts at 7:30 a.m.

The district says Superintendent Dr. Frank Baker met with the district’s transportation officials to ensure what happened Monday, never happens again.

Here is the statement provided by the district:

“On Monday, February 15, two special needs routes were combined due to the drivers being out with illnesses. Seventeen students were on board when the bus broke down at 3:08 PM on HWY 378. Forty-eight minutes later, the mechanic arrived but he was unable to fix the bus. At 5:30 PM a bus from the bus shop arrived; however, the wheelchair ramp was inoperable. At 5:40 PM another bus arrived, and the students were transported home. The last two students were dropped off at 8:34 PM. The students were never without heat.

The transportation office was unable to notify the parents because the substitute driver did not have a bus roster. A majority of the parents began calling the transportation office and the district office around 5 PM and were given the option to pick up their children.

We sincerely apologize that parents were not properly notified. The superintendent is reviewing how substitute routes are handled to ensure a roster always accompanies the route.”


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