Family Searches for Answers After 7-Year-Old with Autism Was Left Alone in School Van

A family in Pennsylvania is confused and outraged after their 7-year-old son didn’t come home from school as he was supposed to and was later found walking down the street alone.

Bonnie Liston says it was the first day of summer school at Brownsville Elementary School for her grandson, Jayce. He was supposed to ride the school van home and arrive a little after 3 p.m., but he never arrived.

Apparently, the driver of that van picked Jayce up at the school as planned, but then he drove home without dropping the boy off at his house, presumably forgetting that he was there. The family is not aware of exactly what took place at the driver’s home, but Jayce was left alone in the van for an unknown amount of time before he eventually got out and started walking.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Travel_Master

“He pushed the button to get out of the van and walked down this road that cars are up and down all day,” Bonnie says.

Surveillance video footage taken at about 4:30 p.m. shows Jayce walking along Narrows Road. Fortunately, one of Bonnie’s friends who lives in the area spotted him and brought him home a little after 5 p.m. Jayce is now safe at home with his family, but they are still trying to piece together what happened and determine whether it’s safe to send Jayce to school in the van.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Yauhen

“You trust your kids with people, and they’re supposed to be safe,” says Bonnie. “I know people make mistakes, I really do, but this is a mistake that should never have a chance or an opportunity to happen.”

According to Bonnie, the Brownsville School District has said that the driver will no longer be working for them. The district also released a statement from superintendent Dr. Keith Hartbauer.

“The Brownsville School District was made aware of a situation involving a student transportation issue last evening,” it reads. “The district and transportation company investigated the situation and took immediate and appropriate action. Because this involves a personnel matter with our transportation company, we have no further comment.”

Photo: Adobe Stock/Irina Schmidt

Mlaker Transportation, a contracted company that provides transportation services for the school district, declined to comment on the situation.

We’re glad that Jayce made it home safely. We hope that some lessons have been learned here and that new safety plans will be implemented to keep kids like Jayce safe in school and on school transportation. This time it ended well, but it could have gone so much worse. When we are in charge of children, we must do our utmost to ensure their safety and security.

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