Driver on leave after leaving preschool student on bus

POUSLBO — A bus driver for the North Kitsap School District is on administrative leave after leaving a student unattended on a bus for at least 30 minutes.

The driver, with more than 20 years of experience, returned to the Finn Hill bus depot after dropping students off at Breidablik Elementary May 2. The school district estimates the student was unattended for 30-40 minutes.

While preparing for a route, another bus driver discovered the student on the bus. Following the discovery, another driver immediately transported the student back to school, according to a statement by the school district. Bus drivers are required to go through a checklist after each run they make. According to the district's public relations director Robyn Chastain, the protocol would have been to lock the bus before leaving the school and doing the standard check.

Chastain said the district is adamant that drivers follow the checklist procedure.

The checklist, which includes many specifications, is supposed to be signed each day. Drivers turn in their checklist at the end of the week. The error, according to the district's statement, was "clearly an error on the part of the employee, who did not follow district protocol.

District administration attempted to reach the parents of the student using two different phone numbers, according to Chastain. The students' parents were not immediately reached.

"We sincerely regret that this incident occurred and want you to know that we take this situation and the safety of all students very seriously," Assistant Superintendent Chris Willits stated for the statement. "This was clearly an error on the part of the employee who did not follow district protocol, which requires drivers to check the entire bus at the end of their route. The bus driver was immediately placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation."

An investigation into the incident is expected to last about one week, Chastain said.

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