Autistic 8-year-old boy left at wrong bus stop, mother furious, claims boy's safety at risk

District: Bus driver "relieved of his duties"
Posted at 6:43 PM, Jun 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-08 21:43:26-04

8-year-old "Stevie" Gonzalez is autistic.  His mother says he occasionally has seizures.  Although Stevie is "high functioning" his mom says he can't be left alone.

Crystal Gonzalez wants to know why a school bus driver left her son alone on a busy street, two blocks from their Lemon Grove home, with no adults in sight.

It happened May 23rd.  Gonzalez said it's not unusual for the bus that normally arrives at 3:30 to be a few minutes late.  By 4:10 Stevie's mom began to panic.  She called the district's transportation to find out what happened when she heard a faint "Hi, Mom."

It was Stevie. Gonzalez' first reaction was relief, then anger.  "He could have wandered off, not found his way home, had a seizure.  Multiple different things could have happened, and my child's life was at stake," she told Team 10.

The only reason why Stevie said he knew which way to walk home was that some friends of his older brother pointed him in the right direction. 

The drop-off was on a busy street, which has no sidewalks in some sections.  There was also another street to cross, as well as a driveway with a semi-obstructed view. 

"Something could have gone wrong," said Crystal Gonzalez.

She demanded answers but felt like she wasn't getting them. "They kind of brushed them under the rug, like it wasn't a big deal because he made it home safely," Gonzalez recalled.

Stevie lives in Lemon Grove, but his special ed class is in the Cajon Valley Unified School District.  The bus, however, is provided by the Grossmont Union High School District.

Team 10 contacted the district three days after Stevie's mother first complained.  Grossmont Union sent this statement, indicating it would be all they have to say about the incident:

"On May 23, while transporting a student passenger from the Lemon Grove School District to his home, a substitute bus driver dropped the student 250 feet away from his designated stop where he would have been met by his parent.

The Grossmont Union High School District regrets this error and has been in contact with the family and the Lemon Grove School District.

The substitute bus driver has been relieved of his position, and a review of safety protocols has been conducted with all drivers and dispatchers.

The Grossmont Union High School District takes pride in safely transporting over 1,400 students to and from school daily."

"I think that once they found out I contacted you guys for support they had to say they're doing something," Gonzalez said.  She hopes the district followed through with its promise to review safety protocols.

"Honestly, it should have been done before an issue like this occurred," she added.

Gonzalez said she hopes other parents of children with disabilities will continue to stand up for their children when missteps like this one happen.