By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — School officials said a bus driver is being punished for dropping an 8-year-old student off at the wrong stop, even though the boy said he was in the wrong place.
The officials said it shouldn’t have happened and promise it won’t happen again.
The boy’s mother said she spent nearly a half-hour searching frantically for her son, who had been dropped off at a stop different from the one she was waiting at.
The mother said her son asked the bus driver to bring him home before he got off the bus, but the driver refused.
School Superintendent James Scully said despite the complexities of transporting about 6,000 children to and from school each day, and despite the fact that this is only the second week of school and there are still some bugs to be worked out, the child should not have ended up at the wrong bus stop.
Scully said there are procedures in place, but they weren’t followed.
“The bus company is dealing with the individual and appropriate disciplinary action has been taken,” Scully said. “The driver apparently made a mistake in judgement and the procedure wasn’t followed.”
Parent Christine Pageau said that on Wednesday at about 3:30 p.m., she was waiting at the corner of Webster and Arlington streets for her son Tyler, a third-grade student at Golden Hill Elementary School, to get off the bus. She said it’s the bus stop he’s been using since the start of school last week and that her son is familiar with the area because they live on Highland Avenue, just a few blocks away.
Pageau said another mother was waiting for her son as well, and that boy wasn’t on the bus either.
“The bus driver told me to call the school,” Pageau said. “I called on my cell phone and they said they would call the bus company to find our where my son is.”
Pageau said she was told to wait there and that her son would be dropped off on a different bus.
“I waited and another bus came, but my son wasn’t on it,” she said. “The driver said she’d just dropped off a child by the CVS.”
Pageau said she and the other woman walked to the CVS in nearby Monument Square, thinking that their children would be waiting for them.
“She was calling the police while I was calling the school again,” Pageau said of the other mother. “But when we got to the CVS, our children weren’t there.”
Fear overcame Pageau, who called home in a panic to tell her 14-year-old son that he needed to help look for his younger brother. Then, a tremendous sense of relief came when the teenage son told her that Tyler was walking towards their home.
When Pageau got home, Tyler told her that he had walked down Kenoza Avenue to get to their home.
She picked him up and hugged him.
“My son told me that he told the bus driver where he lived and asked to be taken home, but the driver told him she could not do that,” Pageau said. “What if he’d been dropped off in an area he wasn’t familiar with?”
Scully said that in cases such as these, a small bus is typically dispatched to take the child to their proper stop.
“It wasn’t handled correctly,” Scully said.