BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Bentonville kindergarten student was left on a school bus for nearly four hours this morning, according to his mother.
“I got the phone call around lunch time and she says Charlie almost died today,” said Michael Carpenter.
The phone call no parent wants to get about their child. Michael and his wife, Michella, said Monday started like any other day by getting Charlie off to school.
“Charlie got on the bus this morning around 6:15, which is his normal pick-up time and it’s pretty early,” said Michella. “We thought he went to school.”
However, Charlie didn’t make it to his classroom.
“Around 11 o’clock this morning, I got a call from the transportation department that he was with them and not at school, so I guess they had just discovered him on the bus.” she said.
She said he was found by a maintenance worker. He had been left sitting on the bus in the heat for hours.
“He was drenched in sweat,” she said. “They had already changed his clothes. He had urinated on himself, he was hot, thirsty and hungry.”
“I’m shaking, I couldn’t breathe for a minute,” recalled Michael.
The school superintendent was called to the scene, along with the boy’s mother. A nurse also arrived to check on him.
Michella said Charlie’s bus had a substitute driver Monday morning, and that the regular driver is diligent about checking for the kids. The parents were left trying to understand why they weren’t alerted sooner about his absence from class.
“What they said was that when it comes to elementary kids, they won’t really call the parents if it’s been a few days and they haven’t heard from the parents and a few days,” said Michael. “They said with middle school and high schoolers that it’s a truancy issue and they’ll call the parents immediately, but it’s not the same time with elementary kids. So that kind of concerns me a lot because we put him on the bus he’s supposed to go to school.”
“We were made aware of this incident earlier today, and we have begun an internal investigation,” said a spokesperson from Bentonville Schools. “We remain in contact with the family and take the situation seriously.”
The Carpenters did take Charlie to the hospital to get checked out, but they say nothing was seriously amiss other than he was dehydrated. Charlie was doing much better by Monday evening after getting some fluids, food and a good nap in.
His parents are very grateful that he’s okay, but hope some changes are made so that this doesn’t happen again.
“Changes to policies and procedures, please make sure that kids are safe, communicate with each other,” said Michella. “Maybe in addition to the bus driver being responsible, somebody else has to check the bus every day.”
Bentonville Schools implemented a new ID card system card system this year to help track students getting on and off buses. The Carpenters said they have not received one of those cards for Charlie yet. However, Michella said her mother will be driving Charlie to school for the remainder of the year.
In August, some Bentonville parents took matters into their own hands when school bus drivers reportedly were not stopping at bus stop signs.