“She was scared,” Hunt said. “When I got home my daughter was soaked and had been crying. It looked like she just walked out of a lake.”
Prospect School officials and the bus driver dispute Hunt's claim, saying the girl got off the bus after she missed her stop and immediately got into a vehicle following the bus. The incident occurred on March 16.
Assistant Principal Bryan Winters said he spoke with a student who got off the bus with the girl.
“The little boy said she got into a black SUV,” Winters said.
School officials and the child's mother say the student was not paying attention when the bus arrived at her stop at Carlonie Drive, a private dirt road off Philadelphus Road. The girl only rides the bus on Fridays.
“It appeared like she wasn't on the bus,” Winters said. “Upon pulling off, the little girl sprang up and said, ‘I am on the bus.' At the next stop there was some conversation about an aunt who was behind the bus. There were witnesses who said she got into the vehicle.”
But Rebecca Maynor, who was parked at the end of Carlonie Drive that afternoon, said it was her sister, Diana Wilson, who was traveling behind the bus. Maynor said the girl didn't get into Wilson's vehicle.
“I saw the child walking down the road,” Maynor said.
Hunt said her child should have never been put off the bus.
“The driver said you can either get off here and walk or I can take you back to school,” Hunt said. “My daughter shouldn't have that option. My daughter got off the bus and started running because she was scared. There are canals on both sides of the road. She could have stumbled and fell or dogs could have attacked her. It's unbelievable.”
Transportation Director Raymond Cummings said, under the system's policy, if a student misses a stop, drivers are told to continue the route and take the student back to school. He said turning the bus around can be dangerous. School officials said the distance between Carlonie Drive and the next stop was about three-tenths of a mile.
“This was an unusual situation,” Cummings said. “The girl doesn't ride the bus every day, but we are still looking into the allegation that the parent made. My hope and my expectation is that the driver did observe proper procedure at the assigned stop. Our job is to make sure all safety precautions are adhered to. Safety is our No. 1 concern.”
Cummings met with Winters and Principal Johnathan Blue on Thursday. Hunt couldn't make it, but agreed to meet with school officials next week.
“This wasn't her fault,” Hunt said. “This worries me, because she shouldn't have been given the choice to get off the bus.”