LAYTON â The Davis School District is apologizing over an error that led to some children with special needs being returned home hours late on Monday.
For one family, it wasn't the first time something like this had happened to them.
Lory and Lance Evans' son, 7-year-old Max, was supposed to be dropped off at Creekside Elementary in Kaysville, where his mother works. He made it there three hours after the school bell rang at his school, Sarah Jane Adams Elementary in Layton.
Lory Evans, a teacher herself, said she was initially told by Maxâs instructor that the bus was running about an hour late.
âThat hour went by and still no Max,â she said.
She called the district, and administrators could not reach the bus driver by phone or by radio. âNow I knew they were panicking, so my motherly instincts were correct in that something was not right,â Evans said.
Anxiety steadily built.
âYouâre just praying that nobody is hurting your child,â she said. âMy heart was starting to race.â
District spokesman Chris Williams said the districtâs transportation director ultimately went out in his own car with his secretary and used the districtâs GPS tracking system to locate the bus, unload Max and return him to his mother.
âWith the state and with the district, you assume everybodyâs going to be safe and doing what theyâre supposed to do, but unfortunately thatâs not the case,â Lory Evans said. âWhen you canât locate or get your hands on your own child for hours at a time, the thoughts that start going through your mind are heartbreaking.â
Williams said the bus driver and assistant who were involved initially forgot Monday was an âearly out day,â and the driver scrambled to pick up the children and take them home.
âThe bus driver and his assistant should have known it was an early out day,â Williams said. âIt was communicated to them multiple times â to all our bus drivers. Apparently, they forgot about that.â
The ordeal sent a frustrated Lance Evans to the district offices Tuesday to meet with administrators.
âIâm frustrated and Iâm heartbroken,â Evans said outside the district offices. âThis is my child that this has happened to. But there were five other children, and itâs beyond my comprehension â after what weâve all witnessed as a community in other school districts this past year â that nobody took notice, that nobody seemed to have learned any lessons. And here we are. It just seems to me like nothing will be done until something bad happens â and one kid is too many.â
Evans said this was the second time something like this had happened to his son. The last time, he said, a substitute bus driver got lost last spring and his son was returned more than three hours late.
Williams said the district is apologizing, taking accountability and disciplining the bus driver.
âWe made a mistake twice, and (Maxâs father) shouldnât have to come up to our offices and explain to us how frustrated he is,â Williams said. âWe need to ratchet it up, no question about it.â
Williams said the district will place one of its best drivers and best assistants on the bus that transports Max and several other special needs students.
The district, Williams said, also planned to send a memo to all bus drivers, instructing them if theyâre late on their route by 15 minutes or more to call into the bus garage and the district will handle the situation.
âI think there are a lot of dots in between that are not connected and not connected well that need to be addressed,â Lory Evans said.