EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

May 21, 2011

Driver, monitor fired after boy left alone on bus

Kindergarten student found sleeping

HAVERHILL — Superintendent James Scully has fired two School Department employees — a bus driver and monitor — after an incident where a kindergarten boy was left alone on a bus for a half-hour.

Scully said the two workers were fired yesterday following an investigation into Thursday’s incident outside Golden Hill Elementary School. The boy was found safe and had fallen asleep on the floor in the rear of the vehicle.

“There are policies and practices in place intended to prevent this type of thing from happening, yet it still happened and it shouldn’t have,” Scully said. “We will scrutinize the policy in much more detail.”

Yesterday, Scully refused to release the names or other information about the employees. He told The Eagle-Tribune that pending a review of the matter by School Department lawyers, more information may be forthcoming. The newspaper has made a formal request for the employees’ names under the Freedom of Information law.

Scully said that on Thursday, the driver of 10-seat bus owned by the School Department had dropped off students enrolled in the afternoon kindergarten session at Golden Hill School.

One of the children, however, stayed on the bus, Scully said. The boy sat down on the floor at the rear of the bus and fell asleep. The child was discovered about a half-hour later.

After being notified of the incident, Scully began an investigation. He asked Golden Hill Principal Bonnie Antkowiak and Kevin Eldredge, school transportation coordinator, to submit reports to him. Scully said the child was unharmed and that Antkowiak informed the boy’s mother of the incident.

“When parents trust their children to us, it’s our responsibility to provide for their care and protection,” Scully said.

This is not the first time a Haverhill student has been left unattended this year. A 6-year-old girl with special needs was left alone for more than an hour in the nurse’s office at Golden Hill School on March 16.

The girl was attending the Discovery Club, an after-school program. As a result, Scully barred the nurse, who was working part-time on a per-diem basis, from that program. He said nurses are employed by the city and that on a few occasions the nurse who had worked for the Discovery program has served as a substitute nurse in the School Department.

“She’s a very nice lady, a wonderful lady who has given years of devoted service to the city,” Scully said. “A mistake was made and she no longer works for the Discovery program.”

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