DALLAS Parents expect their children home from school around the same time every day. Each second or minute or hour a child is late, they grow anxious often fearing the worst.
After nearly three-and-a-half hours of waiting, Latasha Reed got the call from police. Her nine-year-old son Cameron had been in not one, but two wrecks while riding a van subcontracted by the Dallas Independent School District.
Reed was nervous from day one when a stranger took her son to school. Cameron is hearing-impaired, and attends school at Marcus Elementary on the other side of town.
DISD officials assured parents their children would be safe.
But then, last Thursday, when Cameron did not arrive home at 4 o'clock as usual, Reed called the American Logistics Company, a transportation subcontractor for DISD.
'Nobody had any answers,' she said. 'I talked to a supervisor twice named Andy, and he said as soon as we locate the driver and he took my name and number.'
Reed said she made several additional calls to ALC, but still got no answers as to where her son was.
Then around 7:25 p.m., nearly three-and-a-half-hours after realizing her son was missing she got a call from Lancaster police.
'They asked me, 'Am I the parent of Cameron Harris?' And I said, 'Yes,'' Reed recounted. 'And they said, 'Ms. Reed, we are calling to inform you that Cameron has been in an accident.''
She said her heart raced until she learned he had been bruised but was otherwise OK.
A car had broadsided his transport minivan around 6 p.m. in Lancaster, south of Dallas. But the incident triggered an onslaught of questions:
- What was the van doing in Lancaster?
- If the wreck happened at six o'clock, where had Cameron been since school let out at 3:15?
- Who was the driver?
- And most troubling of all why hadn't anyone notified the child's mother?
'I was not informed of the wreck; I was not informed of that he could be coming home late due to a new driver,' Reed said. 'They have not communicated with me at all.'
What's more, she said she learned that her son was also involved in a minor wreck on his way to school that morning in a different van.
ALC spokesman Gregg Prettyman told News 8 in a written statement it was an '...unfortunate coincidence of events.'
Prettyman explained that after the first wreck, 'the ALC driver walked the child directly to his classroom and notified school officials.'
But DISD officials said they have no record of that.
Prettyman also said, 'ALC notified Ms Reed that evening of the second accident.'
News 8 showed that written statement to Reed. 'They said they notified me, which is not correct at all,' she said. 'I notified them that my son had been involved in yet another accident, and I asked them what was their protocol?'
Reed is frustrated and upset at the lack of answers. As of Monday evening, no one has reached out to her at all to explain exactly what happened last Thursday, what didn't happen, and why.
In addition, News 8 has learned that according to police, the driver in the second crash did not have his commercial drivers license as mandated in ALC's contract with DISD.
DISD issued this response:
'We also take very seriously our responsibility to communicate with parents regarding the safety of their children. We expect to receive information from the contractor, Dallas Country Schools, as to why that communication did not take place.'