KINGSTON — Five-year-old Bria Barnett’s first day of kindergarten turned into a nightmare when she was left on a school bus for up to an hour on her way home Tuesday from Third Avenue Elementary, her parents say.
Parents Beth and Troy first realized there was a problem when Bria never got off at her stop.
“I talked to the crossing guard at the Warren and East Dorrance Street bus stop and asked if the Third Avenue Elementary school bus had stopped,” said Troy. “She told me it did. I thought maybe it was turning around to drop our daughter off.”
Troy and Beth soon realized their daughter’s bus wasn’t coming back.
“I called the school but didn’t get any answer,” said Beth. “My husband and I drove to the school and spoke to the principal who was able to get in contact with the director of transportation at the district to call the bus driver and see where Bria was.”
Troy and Beth soon received word their daughter was on the bus and it was heading back to their stop.
“We didn’t really get an explanation,” Beth mentioned. “We were just worried about being at the bus stop to see our daughter.”
When Bria finally arrived, Beth and Troy said they did not receive an adequate answer as to where their daughter had been.
“The school bus driver nervously laughed it off and told us that Bria was a small girl” and she didn’t realize she was still on the bus, Beth said. “I know my daughter is quiet and shy but it was her first time riding the bus.”
To make matters worse, the district forgot to pick up Bria on Tuesday morning.
“I figured being the first day of school the buses might have been running a bit behind,” Troy said. “Turns out, they forgot to pick her up so we had to drive her to school.”
Since the Barnetts drove their daughter to school in the morning, her ride home was the first time she was ever on the school bus.
It’s unclear if the driver had actually left the bus after her route with the girl still aboard. Another concern was Tuesday’s extreme heat, with temperatures topping out in the low 90s.
Calls placed Tuesday night to the Wyoming Valley West director of transportation’s office and the superintendent’s office were not returned by press time.
“We never got any explanation as to where my daughter was,” Beth said. “I couldn’t press my daughter for more information because she was scared and I didn’t want to make her upset.”
“School got out at 3:40 p.m.,” said Beth. “Our daughter was unaccounted for for one hour before she got home around 4:40 p.m.”
“A lot of things can happen in an hour,” added Troy.
After Bria stopped crying when sitting in her parents’ car, she did say she had a good first day at school.
“I just want this resolved,” Troy said. “I don’t want this to happen to another child.”
He continued: “We should’ve had a good day instead of a headache.”
Beth said she will now drive Bria to school every day.
“Bria doesn’t want to take the bus and I don’t blame her,” she said. “I’ll drive her because I don’t want to put my daughter in that situation again.”
The Barnetts plan on having a meeting with school officials Wednesday to find out what exactly happened.
Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 0r 0n Twitter @ByDanStokes