Plano parents angry at school after five-year-old goes missing

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on October 24, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 24 at 8:08 PM

PLANO -- Plano parents trusted the school to keep their five-year-old safe, but they say that trust was broken when he was put on a bus by himself and lost for nearly an hour.

After Jacob Johnson's teacher went home sick Tuesday, something went wrong. The kindergartner at Beverly Elementary was supposed to be in tutoring at school, but instead was loaded onto a school bus.

"Jacob had already gotten off the bus," said Josh Johnson, Jacob's dad. "So the bus driver put him back on, finished the route and brought him back to school. That entire time, the school couldn't account for Jacob."

According to the Plano ISD Director for Communications Lesley Range-Stanton, "the bus driver notified the transportation office that the kindergarten student was not received by a parent or guardian at the bus stop and was being returned to school."

The district spokesperson said in a statement upon returning to the school, Jacob was placed with an older sibling attending after school tutoring.

Compounding Josh Johnson's anger, the school never told them about it. The parents didn't know Jacob was lost until they came to pick him up from tutoring and encountered another teacher. He said the teacher told them they "didn't know where he was for a while."

Those words frightened Johnson and his pregnant wife.

They met with the principal and the district's security director Wednesday.

"The child was never lost and was in the care of school district employees from dismissal to pick up," Range-Stanton said in the statement.

However the parents didn't get the assurances they wanted.

"And then you question them about it, and they say, 'These things happen at Plano ISD?'" the boy's father said. "That's ridiculous. I was so angry."

The only thing that went right, according to the Johnsons, was the alert bus driver who didn't let the boy off at a stop when no one was there to meet him.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com


FULL STATEMENT FROM PISD DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS LESLEY RANGE-STANTON

Beverly Elementary School's principal had a parent conference this morning regarding student transportation. A kindergartner took the usual school bus home yesterday afternoon, but was not greeted by a parent at the bus stop. Per guidelines based on the student's age, the bus driver notified the transportation office that the kindergarten student was not received by a parent or guardian at the bus stop and was being returned to school. The dispatcher notified the school, and upon return, the student was placed with an older sibling who was attending after-school tutoring. Both students were picked up later by their mom. The principal learned that the parents thought the younger child was attending tutoring that day, as well, which is why no one was present to greet the bus. The parents met this morning at the school with the principal and two security specialists. The child was never lost and was in the care of school district employees from dismissal to pick up.

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