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Disabled student forgotten on Missouri school bus for 6 hours

Every Monday through Friday each fall, winter and spring, thousands of children and teens in Missouri go to school. Among them are students who are disabled and require assistance that enables them to learn and take part in school activities. Many of these students also qualify for Supplemental Security Income, which is a federal need-based program for families with a disabled child.

People whose job it is to assist disabled students have a great deal of responsibility, and the expectation is that they pay close attention to the needs of their clients. But two employees of the state of Missouri have been fired, after they left a disabled teenager on the school bus for nearly six hours on Jan. 10.

According to The Kansas City Star, the bus driver and monitor thought all students had gotten off and gone into school. The driver parked the bus around 8:45 a.m. and left. But the student, a 19-year-old woman with severe disabilities, was still aboard.

She uses a wheelchair and is nonverbal, so she was unable to get off the bus unassisted or call for help. Nobody noticed that she was trapped on the bus until around 2:30 p.m., when the driver returned to get ready to drive students home for the day.

At that point, staff members rushed her inside, gave her a drink, and alerted her family. They also called Missouri’s child abuse hotline on themselves. The bus driver and monitor were both fired.

A school administrator said that she has started double-checking each bus to make sure that they are empty of students. The school will also call home every time a student is absent, to make sure they are home.

The Star does not mention any harm to the student.

Source: The Kansas City Star, “Two fired after student with disabilities is left on bus for six hours,” Joe Robertson, Jan. 16, 2014

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