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December 5, 2002

Teacher and aid leave deaf child locked in school bus

From: WPMI, AL - 05 Dec 2002

(MOBILE, Ala.) December 5 - A Mobile County school bus driver is being investigated after leaving a four-year-old deaf student on a locked bus for nearly three hours.

A local school bus driver is faced with losing her job. But, school officials say it could have been a lot different if Wanda Friday or an aid had only paid attention to an orange sign. "I know how simple it is to pull that tag down. I've known that for years to walk that bus."

School superintendent, Doctor Harold Dodge says it is routine for bus drivers to take the orange tag from the front to the back of the bus to make sure each student is accounted for and safely off the bus. But, when they left the Regional School for the Deaf and Blind, a four-year-old deaf child was still on the bus. The bus driver and the aid reportedly drove for miles to a bus compound on Padgett Switch Road, got off the bus and locked it up.

Several hours later, the child was discovered by a supervisor who noticed that the lights and windshield wipers were on in the bus. The supervisor saw the child inside and notified authorities.

School officials say the child was eventually taken back to his school and then taken to Springhill Medical Center to be checked out. Dodge says he is taking the matter very seriously. The aid was fired and Friday's fate is undecided.

Dodge says he will conduct a thorough investigation. He wants to send a message to all bus drivers to leave no seat unchecked.

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