A teacher's mistake and a bus driver who turned down his radio led to anxious moments for a Crowley first-grader and her family on the first day of school Monday.
Skylar Connally, 6, was put on a bus by mistake at J.A. Hargrave Elementary School while her caregiver waited out front to pick her up.
"It wasn't that she got on the wrong bus; she wasn't supposed to be on the bus at all," her mother, Kamisha Bailey, said Wednesday.
Skylar was dropped off at a bus stop just blocks from her home, but she didn't recognize her surroundings and flagged down an empty bus that returned her to Hargrave.
The district has addressed the "multiple mistakes along the way" that led to Skylar's bus rides, said Trent Lovette, Crowley chief of school operations who also oversees district transportation.
Bailey said she met Skylar's teacher last week, wrote down that her daughter would be picked up every afternoon, and introduced the teacher to Skylar's caregiver.
Skylar's teacher put her on a bus anyway because her name appeared on a Durham Transportation Services list as an eligible rider for the bus that serves her neighborhood. Durham is the Crowley district's contracted bus service.
"Anybody that lives over two miles from the school they attend is on an eligible rider list," Lovette said. "Some are high school students who drive themselves."
If the driver of Skylar's bus had not turned down his communications radio, he would have gotten the call to return her shortly after he pulled away from the school.
After the mistake was discovered at the campus, Lovette said, emergency personnel were notified and staff members who knew Skylar from kindergarten last year were sent to her neighborhood to search for her.
Her counselor went to her home in case she walked there.
Once the second driver called in that he was bringing her back, the search was called off and emergency crews en route were dismissed.
"I just don't want this mistake to happen again," Bailey said. "I don't want to get anybody fired or in trouble, I just want to raise awareness of the problem with the school."
Lovette said existing district procedures are sufficient to prevent a recurrence, but they must be followed. The bus eligibility list doesn't confirm that a child is a rider, and drivers must follow radio procedure.
"It is not acceptable for us to put a child who's a car rider on a bus, even inadvertently," Lovette said. "If the bus driver had the radio turned down, that is not acceptable. We need to be able to notify every driver on every bus."
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657