Grandmother says NJ school bus driver lied about checking for lost boy
BERKELEY — The grandmother of the Ocean County first-grade student who briefly went missing on the first day of school this week when he wasn't let off the bus at the right stop faulted officials who couldn't locate the bus even though it was equipped with a GPS device.
The report of the missing boy prompted a town-wide search by police, teachers and neighbors.
School officials also would not confirm whether the bus driver remains on the job or was fired.
Kathy Kenny said she met with superintendent James D. Roselli, Clara B. Worth Elementary School principal Daniel H. Prima and several other school officials about Tuesday's incident, in which her 6-year-old grandson didn't get off at his stop and wound up at the bus garage.
Kenny said she was told that the driver of the bus first said that he had dropped Trent off at a different stop and later told a dispatcher that he had checked the bus for Trent and did not see him.
According to Kenny, the bus driver was questioned about the events of his run, after the transportation staff had viewed the video, "and he still lied," she said.
The bus went to a second school to drop off a second busload of kids before returning to the bus garage where the boy was spotted by another driver.
Roselli would not discuss specifics of the incident citing the district's confidentiality policy.
According to Kenny, Bus 17 was equipped with GPS and transportation staff were monitoring the bus.
"They were watching his bus and saw the bus go off route, saw him do his second run and get stuck in traffic on Route 9, and no one bothered to check the bus," she said.
Kenny said she was told that district officials also viewed the surveillance video onboard each bus and learned that the driver did not take a head count.
"He said he stopped, pulled over his bus and checked (for Trent); he never did that, either. Remember they were saying that Trent got off the bus? He never got off the bus."
Kenny was upset that no one from the district's transportation department "got up off their ass to go to the bus to check it."
Roselli would not identify the driver or provide the status of his employment when asked by New Jersey 101.5.
"Unfortunately (it was) a very terrible mistake and we're hoping to learn from that mistake, move on and continue to do all the wonderful things we do on a daily basis," Roselli said.
"We're doing everything we can to button this thing up and move on and we're all ready to move on," Roselli added. "The district has followed every policy and procedure that we need to do as far as notifying authorities and doing everything we need to do."
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.