Andover Mom: Bus Driver Dropped Off Autistic Son with No One Home

Updated: 01/22/2014 8:52 AM By: Beth McDonough

Minnesota parents trust school bus drivers to take care of our children, especially the ones who transport kids with special needs. 

One mother reached out to us and said a driver dropped off her 7-year-old son, Will, ahead of schedule and no one was home. That was last Friday in Andover, according to Shannen Schmieg.

Schmieg made sure to meet Will at his school bus stop Tuesday, because last time she said she found her son shivering and crying in the single-digit temperatures.

She said Will does have a history of wandering off. 

Rachel Gardner, an autism expert at Fraser in Minneapolis said, "They have limited safety awareness so these kids don't know how to keep themselves safe even if it's from a curb to home."

The driver with First Student Bus Company arrived ahead of schedule, letting Will off the bus without following the rules to confirm anyone was home, according to Schmieg.

"Common sense you know, think of it as your child," said Schmieg.

She recorded her call to bus dispatch, "dispatcher:  Oh wow, they just dropped him off, oh my gosh."

KSTP reporter Beth McDonough asked Keith Paulson, the Transportation Director for Anoka-Hennepin, just what happened.

He told us, "We're investigating it now, couldn't tell ya."

Since a similar incident this school year, Anoka-Hennepin District instituted a policy to help protect its 1,700 special needs students who ride buses. 

Drivers are expected to make sure a child gets into their home at the end of the day. "If there's something that didn't happen as it was supposed to, we're going to find out what it is, and we're going to correct it and make sure everybody knows," Paulson said.

The district confirms they're reviewing videotape from a security camera aboard the bus.

The driver and an aide are on administrative leave.

There are more than 16,000 autistic students in Minnesota Public Schools, according to the Department of Education.