By Ernie Garcia
The Journal News â€¢ October 3, 2008
YONKERS – A 6-year-old autistic boy at the Westchester Hills School 29 was left on a school bus for six hours without anyone noticing he was missing.Yonkers police are investigating what happened to the child, who on Monday was returned to his parents at the end of the school day. A bus driver and bus monitor for the Yonkers-based Allways East Transportation company were removed from their responsibilities in the district because of the incident.
In an e-mailed statement yesterday, schools spokesman Eric Schoen emphasized that the boy was safe.
“The district expects strict adherence to the mandated procedures for unloading and checking buses. In fact, the district contacted the Yonkers Police Department and requested that they complete a full investigation of this matter,” Schoen wrote. “Until the investigation is completed, the district has no further comment.”
Yonkers police spokeswoman Lt. Diane Hessler also declined to comment on the matter, citing an ongoing investigation.
Marlaina Koller, owner of Allways East Transportation, said police asked her not to comment on the matter.
“I’m very happy that the child is OK,” Koller said.
Sofy Abraham, the boy’s mother, said she’s not sure if her son suffered any trauma or harm because he has very limited speaking abilities.
“Thank God he was alive and we had him checked. I don’t know how it affected him, because it’s hard to tell with an autistic child,” said Abraham, whose son has attended the school for three years.
Abraham said she was very upset over the incident and she faulted school officials for not calling her or her husband during the day when the child was absent from class. Her son was apparently discovered on the bus when the driver returned to pick up children from school to take them home.
Abraham said the principal called to tell her what had happened.
Monday’s incident was the first time Abraham has had a problem with her son’s elementary school.
“I fought for the school and I really trust the teachers,” said Abraham. She added that her concern was that her son was not in the care of any teacher or school official during the time he was missing.
Yonkers schools were closed Tuesday and Wednesday, and yesterday Abraham kept her son out of school. She plans on returning him to the school today.
Reach Ernie Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-696-8290.