Pasco News

Special-ed student found on school bus at Dade City garage

— A special education student who was supposed to be dropped off Tuesday morning at Double Branch Elementary in Wesley Chapel instead stayed on his school bus and ended up at a bus garage in Dade City, the Pasco County School District reported.

The driver and bus aide discovered him after they arrived at the garage, but by then the boy’s parents had been told he was missing, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said.

She said the driver, Vicki Lucas-Gawel, and the aide, Graciela Herrera, have been pulled from their duties at least temporarily and will meet with the district’s employee relations department Wednesday.

“It appears they did not follow procedures to make sure every student was off the bus before they left the school,” Cobbe said.

She said an instructional aide at the school is supposed to meet the student at the bus when it arrives at the school. The instructional aide was there and questioned the driver when the child didn’t get off the bus, Cobbe said.

The driver said the child must have gotten off with the other students, Cobbe said, because the roster showed the child had been on the bus.

The school called the parents to tell them the child was missing and the bus left the campus and headed to the bus garage in Dade City, Cobbe said.

“When they get there, they see the child is on the bus,” she said.

Cobbe said the child was never alone on the bus at the garage, but by then, it had been about 45 minutes since the parents were notified.

Tuesday was the second day of school for the Pasco County School District’s 2014-15 academic year.

Lucas-Gawel has been a driver with the district since 2008, Cobbe said, and Herrera has worked with the district since 2007.

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