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SAN BENITO — School officials are reviewing procedures after a 6-year-old San Benito student was placed on the wrong bus before a driver found her sleeping in her seat after parking in the district’s bus barn.
In news reports, the Dr. Cash Elementary School student’s father, identified as Jesus Zambrano, claimed the district violated protocol when his daughter boarded the wrong bus on Aug. 14 following the first day of school.
“School personnel are conducting a full review of our transportation department’s protocols to prevent a recurrence,” Isabel Gonzalez, the district’s spokeswoman, stated. “All SBCISD campuses and our transportation department will continue to work together so that our students are safe when traveling to and from school. Student safety is the highest priority for San Benito CISD, and the safe transportation of our students is a responsibility we take very seriously.”
Girl ‘inadvertently placed’ on wrong bus
On Aug. 16, school board member Rudy Corona reviewed the incident, tracking its sequence of events.
Corona said the bus was running while its air conditioning system was operating during the time the girl was on board.
“I looked into it to make sure the bus was never turned off and the A/C was running all the time,” he said in an interview.
Corona said he hadn’t determined how the girl boarded the wrong bus.
The girl “was inadvertently placed on the incorrect school bus,” Gonzalez stated in the district’s press release.
At 4:15 p.m. Aug. 14 at Dr. Cash Elementary School at 400 Poinciana St., the girl was placed on a bus, Corona stated.
Then at 4:19 p.m., the bus driver dropped off the first round of students at the San Benito Boys and Girls Club at 410 N. Stookey Road, he stated.
At 4:20 p.m, the driver asked students remaining on the bus to move to the front seats, Corona stated.
Then at 4:23 p.m., the driver dropped off what was believed to the bus’ remaining students.
At 4:35 p.m., the driver steered the bus into the district’s bus barn at the Jana Kay Landrum Auxiliary Services Building, located in the San Benito Industrial Park.
Then at 4:37 p.m., the driver and another driver found the girl on the bus, Corona stated.
“The school bus arrived at the transportation department’s bus barn at 4:35 p.m. and during a routine end-of-route walk-through of the bus at 4:37 p.m., the child was found sleeping soundly on the seat in the air-conditioned bus,” Gonzalez stated. “The bus driver immediately left the bus barn and at 4:47 p.m. safely delivered the child at the home address on record. At no time was the child left unattended.”
How did the girl board the wrong bus?
On Aug. 16, Facebook was buzzing, as residents questioned how the girl boarded the wrong school bus.
“The bus driver did the end-of-route walk-thru and found her asleep — she was on the wrong bus,” Sheila Guajardo posted. “But someone needs to be held accountable. She’s 6. She doesn’t understand bus numbers or routes — way too hot for this to happen and on the first day of school.”
In response, Alainie Renee Garza believed district officials should hold others accountable for placing the girl on the wrong bus.
“I think more than just the bus driver should be held accountable,” she posted. “Like who put her on the wrong bus? It’s not only one person’s fault. There had to have been several people who should have checked, especially being the first day, from the teacher, to the para to bus monitors, etc.”
Like Garza, Jessica Cruz believed district personnel should have helped the girl board her bus.
“Especially if she’s 6, shouldn’t someone walk her to the bus to make sure she’s on the right one?” she asked.