HOWARD CITY, Mich. - The first day of preschool for one family turned out to be longer than expected, after a Tri County Area Schools bus driver nearly drove a three-year-old student to an address that does not exist.
Mother of the student Anne Gaylord told FOX 17 that the school district sent her son to Jones Road in Pierson, rather than the correct address on Jones Road in Howard City. Gaylord’s son is three-years-old—soon-to-be four-years-old, making the age cut-off to ride the bus—and attends Tri County Area Schools preschool.
On the first day of school this Tuesday, Gaylord’s son rode the bus about an hour longer than necessary. Her son was supposed to be driven to his babysitter’s house by 1:30 P.M., but Gaylord said her son did not arrive until 2:25 P.M.
When the boy was not at the babysitter’s by 1:30 P.M., the babysitter called the bus dispatcher and was on the phone with them until the boy was at her home.
When Gaylord spoke with bus garage personnel Wednesday morning, she told FOX 17 she was shocked by the response.
“They pretty much just said that it was a 'little glitch' that he was lost and they had taken care of it,” said Gaylord. "I said, ‘excuse me?’ I said, ‘a little glitch? How does something like this happen? It's not okay for a three-year-old to be lost, and it certainly shouldn't be described as a little glitch’, it's unacceptable."
Thursday FOX 17 spoke with Tri County Area Schools Superintendent Allen Cumings, who said he was unaware of the incident. FOX 17 connected Cumings with Gaylord; he called her immediately and released this statement:
“The daycare spoke with our bus garage, and we informed them that the student would be dropped off after the other students were taken home. This led to the bus being very late, and the student being on the bus much longer then we would want.
“I have spoken with the parent, and will work with her and the bus garage to make sure this issue is corrected. We do not want students to be on the bus for such a long period of time. We will also work on better, and more quality communication to our parents about busing situations.”
"I feel a lot more comfortable now especially now that they're working the kinks out in all the systems, and they're taking a complete look at the whole route in general, all the preschool routes in general,” said Gaylord.
Gaylord said she is “scared to death about what could have happened.” She suggested that all parents make their young children aware of landmarks and their surroundings.
"(My son) knows where he's supposed to be, but I don't think he necessarily knows where he's not supposed to be,” said Gaylord.
The start of the school year was delayed one week after EightCAP said they had some teacher turnover in Head Start. Effectively, Tri County Area Schools said they would delay the start of preschool until Tuesday as well, in order to better align busing.
Cumings said students from Tri County Area Schools, Intermediate School District, and Head Start share buses depending on program schedules and their addresses.