Two charged with neglect after forgetting student on school bus
An elementary school student in a wheelchair was left alone for five hours in a parked school bus. Now, two former Midwest City-Del City School District employees are facing felony child neglect charges.
Bus driver Archie Irvin Card, 79, told Midwest City police he felt “horrible about the situation,” according to a court affidavit. Bus monitor Kathy McConnell, 55, said she didn’t know why they left the child on the bus, but she has “not been able to sleep since the incident because she feels so bad.”
A mother of a Country States Elementary School student notified police Dec. 11 that her daughter wasn’t dropped off at school that day and was left on a bus from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The child uses a wheelchair and is unable to speak or communicate, police reported.
The child’s mother dropped her daughter off at a day care at 7:30 a.m. where Card and McConnell picked up children at 7:55 a.m. The bus was scheduled to drop the children off at Country Estates Elementary before returning to the Mid-Del Schools Transportation Department.
Security camera video showed Card and McConnell stop in the transportation department parking lot and leave the child on the bus, according to the affidavit. They returned at 2 p.m. and discovered the girl still waiting there.
“Card said he did not want to make any excuses about the situation, but they had to clean up an area after one of the kids got off the bus and it got them out of their routine,” police reported.
Card told officers he and McConnell made a second mistake by not notifying the school as soon as they found the child, according to the affidavit.
“McConnell said she and Card did not know what to do when they found (her), so they took her back to the day care,” officers said.
The day care notified the girl’s mother that her daughter had been dropped off much earlier than normal. The mother then contacted the school and learned her child had never arrived that day.
She took her daughter to the hospital after she found out the child had been left alone for five hours, according to the affidavit. The hospital determined the girl was slightly dehydrated and extremely tired.
Mid-Del School District spokeswoman Stacey Boyer said Card resigned from his position the day of the incident. The school district fired McConnell on Jan. 14.
Card had been driving school buses for 40 years, and McConnell had been a bus monitor for 10 years.
The school district has met with its bus drivers to reiterate a “flag out procedure” to ensure they check that a bus is empty of students, Boyer said. The policy requires that bus drivers place a red flag at the back emergency exit door upon return to the transportation department parking lot.
Drivers are reminded of the policy in morning announcements and safety meetings, Boyer said. School district staff walk through the parking lot to make sure drivers follow the policy daily.
“Mid-Del has cooperated with law enforcement during their investigation,” she said. “The bus driver and monitor are no longer employees of Mid-Del Public Schools. We have worked with our transportation department to reiterate procedures and protocols that are in place.”