A 7-year-old Buffalo public school student was dropped off by her bus in the middle of a neighborhood where her family no longer lives Wednesday afternoon, leaving the girl to wander the streets for hours while her frantic mother made calls trying to find her.
Buffalo police eventually found the crying girl and reunited her with her mother.
Shalea King was dropped off at an old East Side address miles away from where her mother and grandmother were waiting for her, the girl’s mother told WIVB-TV.
Shalea said she told the bus driver that she wasn’t supposed to get off at that stop but was sent off the bus anyway.
Meanwhile, the girl’s mother, Shawnte McDowell, said she called First Student bus service but received no help. She said the bus driver should have double-checked with the station when her daughter said she wasn’t at the right stop.
Shalea was dropped off near Eggert Road and Hewitt Avenue, even though her mother was waiting for her at Northland and Winchester avenues, almost three miles away.
“The safety and security of our students is our core value and a responsibility we take very seriously,” said First Student spokeswoman Jen Biddinger in a statement. “We are conducting a full internal investigation into this incident and are working closely with our partners in the school district to make sure it does not happen again.”
McDowell also told WIVB-TV that she informed her daughter’s school about her change of address, but school officials said they had no record of it.
District spokeswoman Elena Cala said Friday that the student started her first day in an after-school program at her school Wednesday, and in accordance with the district’s policy, the late-day bus drop-offs automatically return the child to their parent’s home unless the parent requests differently.
When Shalea was being dropped off immediately after the regular school day, prior to starting the after-school program, she was being taken to her grandmother’s house, which is where her mother was waiting for her Wednesday afternoon.
A notice regarding the late-day bus drop-off points for Shalea was sent to the parent’s old address, but McDowell never saw that information.
Cala said the district is looking into the incident and intends to address it.