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Kindergartner left on South Bend school bus all day

A five-year-old was forgotten on a South Bend Community School bus all day long Wednesday. Now, his mother is speaking out to make sure it never happens again.

“I got stuck on the bus, and no one saw me sleeping,” said Forest G. Hay Elementary School kindergartner, Keaton Smith.

“So I get to the school, and only his older brother is outside, and I say where’s Keaton?” said his mother, Jenyfer Smith.

“I went in the bus garage, and I was very scared when I was on the bus,” said Keaton.

Five-year-old Keaton Smith was left all alone on a South Bend school bus—without heat or food—for seven hours Wednesday.

“My first reaction was sad, like I wanted just to hold him because he was freezing. He’s actually got a cold now from it, and he was scared, so I just felt hopeless from not being able to help him. Then I was mad,” said Jenyfer.

“I was crying for my blankie and my family,” said her son.

Jenyfer says she was told the school marked him absent when he didn’t show up to class.

“They seriously thought he was home sick. They didn’t know until like five minutes before I picked him up that he was on the bus the whole day,” she said.

Basically, two protocols were ignored:

  1. If a child does not show up to school, administration is supposed to contact the parents. They did not.
  2. Bus drivers are supposed to do a sweep of the school bus at the end of each route to prevent this very situation.

“I hate that this really happened, but it’s a big mistake that can’t just be swept under the rug,” said Jenyfer.

When we asked South Bend Community School Corporation about the incident, they sent us the following statement:

“The safety and security of our students are always the top priority of the South Bend Community School Corporation. Bus drivers and attendants are trained to walk the interior of the bus from back to front after each route to ensure no student has been left on the bus. The incident yesterday is being fully investigated and all appropriate disciplinary action will be taken. “

“I think that they should be fired,” said Jenyfer.

Because she hates that her son was so scared.

“I was thinking that I would be on there all day and I would die,” said Keaton.

A day later, it seems like Keaton is back to his happy, bubbly self, and ready to go back to school.

Jenyfer says this is her first negative experience with South Bend school busses, so she trusts that the school will handle the situation properly.

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