KINGSTON — The crossing guard — who has held that job for 19 years — said the parents were telling the truth: A Wyoming Valley West Kindergarten student was never picked up by the bus in the morning, and the parents were at the bus stop when it was supposed to drop her off in the afternoon.
“The parents were right,” Josie Luhrs said while standing at the intersection of Warren and East Dorrance streets in Kingston on Friday. She said the parents of Bria Barnett were at the corner both in the morning and afternoon. The intersection is an official bus stop for one route that takes students to and from Third Avenue Elementary, according to the bus schedule on the district website.
Luhrs said the family arrived at the corner around 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, and that she talked to Bria as she waited for her first bus ride to school, telling the five-year-old and her parents that the bus usually comes around 8:30 a.m. When it still hadn’t arrived by 9, the parents decided drive Bria to school.
Luhrs said the bus usually arrives after school around 3:45 p.m., and that the parents were there around 3:30. She said the bus didn’t stop at the corner until well after 4 p.m.
District Transportation Director Kim Alfano said Wednesday that she was told by people at Meyers Bus Company — contracted by the district for that route — that the driver had not dropped Bria off initially because no one was there to meet her. Both state law and district policy prohibit leaving a kindergarten student unattended at a bus stop. At the time, Alfano said she had not yet spoken with Luhrs. Alfano said the bus missed the stop completely in the morning.
Alfano said the bus company told her the driver kept Bria on the bus while finishing the route, then returned to the Warren Street stop to drop her off.
But Luhrs was certain in her recollection that both parents were at the intersection by 3:30, and that the bus did not arrive at all until about an hour later.
Alfano did not return a call seeking an update Friday afternoon. Luhrs said the bus was on time both in the morning and afternoon the rest of this week.
Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish