Draper mom seeks answers after 4-year-old son left alone on school bus

Posted at 6:10 PM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-18 21:50:34-04

DRAPER – A Draper mother is upset after she said her 4-year-old son was left alone on a school bus, and now the driver in question is on paid administrative leave.

Kathrine Parnell’s son Zach takes the bus home from Willow Springs Elementary twice a week, but now she no longer thinks he is safe.

Zach plays with big sister Zoe in their front yard. It’s a welcome sight for mom, who was in a panic Tuesday.

“Zachary normally gets dropped off from the school bus here at the house at 11 a.m., and at 11:25 he was not here,” Parnell said.

She called the school, and dispatchers told her all students had been dropped off.

“Fears are running through my head," Parnell recalls.

They eventually tracked down the bus driver, who was at her Sandy home with the bus parked outside.

“She believed that her route was completed and Zachary was left on the bus alone,” Parnell said.

Sure enough, Zach was still on the bus, so the driver took him home.

“I got onto the bus, and she looked at me and smiled and said, 'Sorry,'” Parnell said.

FOX 13 News took Parnell’s concerns to Jeff Haney, spokesperson for the Canyons School District.

“The safety of our students is paramount," he said.

Haney says the bus driver is now on paid administrative leave. They are looking at the bus’ GPS tracker system and surveillance footage to figure out exactly what happened.

“The internal investigation will be very thorough, and it will determine exactly where the bus was at any given time yesterday during the bus' route,” Haney said.

Parnell also filed a report with Draper Police and says the bus driver could face child endangerment charges.

“It's very concerning that we have children out on our roads, and we as parents really don't know where they're at, we are just blindly trusting the school district and trusting the drivers to do what they're supposed to do," she said.

Parnell says she would like Canyons School District to consider an electronic system to check students in and out of school. She feels it would be a more consistent way to track students.