Outrage after a bus driver dropped an autistic three-year-old girl at the wrong special-needs school in Hayward this week has touched off an investigation, a review of school bus contracts and a social media firestorm.
The parent's nightmare that happened on Wednesday – the first day of school for special needs students in the East Bay district – started when the bus driver took three-year-old Kaitlin Gonzalez to the wrong school.
Hayward mother Alicia Gonzalez said what happened next traumatized the child. She blamed Durham Bus Services for failing to secure Kaitlin’s safety.
"Durham does not take ordinary care of children, much less special care for these children," said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez told KTVU Kaitlin is unable to say her own name.
She posted a picture on Facebook of Kaitlyn getting on the bus Wednesday. After that initially happy start, things went downhill quickly.
Kaitlin was taken to the wrong school by the bus driver. After what Gonzalez called a traumatizing delay, another bus finally took her to the correct school.
But then the Durham driver didn't pick Kaitlin up after school. An emergency contact finally got her home.
"The following day, she did not want to go to school, as you can imagine," her mother explained. "She was terrified to get on the on the bus. And she didn't. She did say 'Bus hurt me. Bus pinch me. Bus bad.'"
Durham Bus Services acknowledged mistakes.
"[We] have worked out a plan to improve communication and coordination going forward," said Durham Bus Services spokesperson Paul Bracco.
Hayward Unified School District officials said they were taking steps to address the mistakes of Wednesday.
"We're in the process of reviewing the contract and previous concerns with Durham Bus Services," said Hayward Unified School District Superintendent Stan Dobbs.
But Dobbs admitted there were few options for bus service in the district. That answer did not sit well with Gonzalez.
"Durham's response today is completely unacceptable," said an angry Gonzalez.
The family didn't say if they would find an alternative mode of transporation for Kaitlin to get to school so they could stop using the bus service.
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