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Mother wants improvements after son wrongly put on bus at Hendry County school

A mother is taking her plan to the Hendry County School Board after her son was recently put on a bus he shouldn’t have been on.

Cristol DeSantiago said her 6-year-old son is scared to leave her side after he was put on a bus and taken to a bus stop when he supposed to be picked up by her from school.

“They should not be going through this,” DeSantiago said. “This is hard.”

DeSantiago believes Hendry County School District should require more detailed name tags with a grade, a bus route and designated bus driver.

“It hurts me because something worse could have happened,” DeSantiago said.

DeSantiago’s son, Carlos, was put on a bus at his elementary school, but his name tag says he gets picked up.

“It really broke me … He’s my only child and God forbid,” DeSantiago said. “I don’t know what I would have done.”

Some parents say, if the name tag had more information such as a bus route and driver name, the school would have paid better attention.

“It identifies the child, exactly what school, which grade, teacher,” DeSantiago said. “So you know who to contact and everything, so I think it’s a great idea.”

Others say name tags for elementary school students are dangerous.

”If they have a tag on and a stranger does get a hold of what their name may be from the tag, then, it could lead to bad things,” Graham Shearstone said.

We reached out to Lee, Collier and Charlotte County school districts to see if they have plans to avoid similar issues. Lee and Charlotte gave responses, and Collier has not responded yet.

LEE COUNTY

“Elementary students wear name tags during the first week of school to differentiate who rides the bus, who gets picked up, who walks and who stays for after school care.

New students, or students with limited English, can also be provided name tags, paperwork, or an adult employee for a period of time to make sure they get on the right bus.

Students are also assigned seats on the bus, allowing the driver to know who is in the right place and who is not, so that students don’t take the wrong bus home.

School employees are actively involved in the loading of buses to also make sure the right students are getting on the right bus.

The safety and security of our students is our highest priority and we take great care at the end of the school day to place every student on the correct bus.

“Where’s the bus” is still active. I have not heard any feedback this school year from transportation, which I hope means that it is working well and parents are happy with it.”

CHARLOTTE COUNTY

“Teachers walk the students out to the bus ramp each and every day.

They have a list of the bus riders with the child’s name and their bus number next to it.

The teachers line the students up in the order that the buses are waiting in the bus loop, line them up before they go out and they make sure that each child gets on the the right bus before returning to their classrooms.

Pre-K, kindergarten and first graders cannot get off the bus at their stop unless there’s a parent, relative or neighbor who is on record to meet them.”

When DeSantiago meets with school administrators, she plans to bring some kind of scan code that might also help this kind of situation. She said the district is allowing her to move her son to another school if she wants to.

“It’s time to really make a change and make these kids safer,” DeSantiago said.

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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