Mother: My autistic son was left on a school bus too

SAN DIEGO - A South Bay mother contacted Team 10 after her autistic son was left on a school bus and missed part of school.

Kay Smith’s 3-year-old son, Cooper, attends special education classes at Loma Verde School. This is the second time in a week Team 10 has learned of an autistic child being left on a bus.

“We saw your story on the other little girl that was left on the bus and this is ridiculous," Smith said. "It’s happening in multiple school districts. Something needs to change."

Zia Estrada, 4, was left alone on a San Diego Unified School District bus a couple weeks ago for about 30 minutes when her bus driver forgot to drop her off to her special education classes at Kumeyaay Elementary School.

Smith said her son was picked up by the bus at her home at 6:40 a.m. on March 11. He was dropped back off at 11:30 a.m., like any other day. It wasn’t until 5:45 p.m. when the bus driver called Smith and told her “she had forgotten Cooper on the bus.”

Cooper did not say anything because he has problems communicating. Smith said his teacher later told her Cooper made it to school after he missed the first couple of hours.

“I was just so angry and in disbelief," Smith said. "I personally did not get a call from dispatch, I didn’t get a call from the school, I didn’t get a call from anybody."

Team 10 contacted the Chula Vista Elementary School District. A spokesperson said in a statement, “Our district investigated this matter. We have taken steps to ensure it won’t happen again.”

Smith filed a complaint with the district and filed a police report. To this day, she doesn’t know exactly what happened during the hours Cooper should have been at school.

“I just want the truth," she said. "I want to know what happened that day and where the breakdown in communication was."

The Chula Vista Elementary School District would not comment on the driver. A spokesperson said the case may involve employee discipline and they could not elaborate on personnel matters.

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