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Layton child, 4, left alone on sidewalk after dropped off by bus

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Posted at 10:10 PM, Feb 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-04 00:10:01-05

LAYTON -- Every day at about 12:15 p.m., a school bus pulls up outside the Rettenberger home in Layton. But on Tuesday of last week, no one was there to welcome 4-year-old Mason inside.

“They just drove away and left him standing between the sidewalk and the road,” said Mason’s mother, Jacqueline Rettenberger.

She was out running an errand when her son was dropped off by the bus, about a half hour earlier than he normally is.

“When I came home at 11:50 a.m. there he was by himself, just standing there, looking around, kind of thinking about walking down the road,” Rettenberger said.

The special needs student was released early from school because of a change in class schedule within the Davis School District. Rettenberger said she wasn’t aware the bus route would be impacted, nor the treatment of her son.

“I had no idea he was going to be home any earlier,” Rettenberger said. “I think the procedure ought to be for a child that age, or even special education children, they ought to watch them physically walk through that door. There’s no assurance that everything is going to be OK. They need to see that they are safe.”

According to Davis School District spokesman, Chris Williams, that actually is the procedure. It just wasn’t followed.

“All I can say is, I’m sorry, we messed up,” Williams said. “That shouldn’t have happened.”

When transporting pre-school students, bus drivers are supposed to wait until a parent is present before leaving, according to Williams.

“It all whittles down to we had a substitute driver behind the wheel that day, dropped off the little guy, and he shouldn’t have done that,” he said.  “It was unfortunate. It was a mistake. And we’re glad nothing happened.”

While the district does not have plans to take any formal disciplinary action against the driver, officials do intend to review and reiterate their procedures and expectations with staff.

Rettenberger said the bus driver involved did contact her to apologize; however, she is still not convinced enough is being done to ensure her son will arrive home safely in the future.

“They just left him on the side of the road, by himself,” she said. “There’s got to be another procedure, there’s got to be another way to deal with this.”