PORTLAND, Ore. -- A Portland mom is furious and she says her 5-year-old son is traumatized after she said her son was riding the bus home from school when the driver dropped him off in an area that was unfamiliar to him.
There was no adult there to meet him. Catlin Moser said it has happened twice now as her son Zaia, who has autism, was coming home from an after-school program. The first time was in October.
“The bus driver had let him off six blocks away from home ... about 25 minutes too early,” said Moser.
“So there was no adult there to meet him. So my son got off the bus and a stranger had picked my son up and put him in his vehicle to help him find his home,” Moser continued.
Then she said last Friday a First Student bus dropped Zaia off again in the same unfamiliar place, without an adult he knew. It took an hour to find him. A neighbor had taken him in.
“That was the scariest hour of my life,” said Moser.
She said the bus driver should have dropped her son off in another designated location where an adult he knew would have been present to meet him.
“They have to be released to a familiar adult if they're in kindergarten,” Moser said.
The Portland Public School District contracts with First Student.
Dave Northfield, with PPS said it is the district’s responsibility to make sure kids get home safe, and it takes that responsibility seriously. He said Zaia was on a general transportation bus which would not have required a parent be there to meet the child.
“There was some sort of mix up along the way,” said Northfield.
Northfield said the district is going over surveillance video, talking to the people involved, and trying to get to the bottom of what happened. He said there are a number of different PPS programs that utilize various modes of transportation. Still, he said it’s up to the district to keep track of those modes of transportation.
“If this student was discharged from a bus and there was nobody to meet that student, and there was supposed to be before the student was let off the bus, that's a problem,” Northfield said.
But Moser said her son has a yellow tag he wears, which means he has to be met by an adult when he gets off the bus. She said regardless of what bus he was on, the yellow tag would have been hard to miss.
Moser said her son is still dealing with what happened. She said he's having nightmares about strangers and doesn't like taking the bus anymore.
“I mean what has to be happen before they do something?” said Moser.
She said at the very least she wants more training for bus drivers so it doesn't happen again to her son or anyone else's child.
KGW reached out to First Student, but we have not heard back.
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