Mother upset after autistic son left on school bus unnoticed

Mother upset after autistic son left on school bus unnoticed
Braeden, 8, is autistic and was left on a school bus unnoticed. His mother said she wasn't properly notified of the incident.

SALEM, Ore. - An 8-year-old special needs student was left on a school bus undetected Monday and his mother said she wasn't properly notified.

The Salem-Keizer Public Schools did call Brittni Donnelly but with a recorded message so she didn't initially have any details about what happened. According to the district, the bus driver did make a mistake and it is making sure the rules are followed. But Donnelly said that's not enough.

Donnelly placed her autistic son, Braeden, on the bus herself and even buckled him in. So she was surprised when she got an automated call from the school.

"My heart just dropped, because I knew he was placed on the bus, and then you get a call saying your student is absent – you're like, OK," Donnelly said.

She said she had to call the school and transportation to find out what happened.

"He fell asleep on the bus. They didn't realize it until the bus driver got back to the lot and he did his routine of checking the bus and that's when he found him sleeping," Donnelly said.

A school district spokesman said when the bus pulled up to Harritt Elementary School some adults got on and helped the kids off the bus. But the bus driver didn't clear the bus, which is typical protocol.

The driver left the school then went back to the bus barn. When the bus arrives the driver is supposed to clear the bus there too, according to the district. When that happened Braeden was finally found and brought back to school.

"I find it hard to believe that he was overlooked," Donnelly said upset, especially since her son can't explain what happened. She said she wants stricter policies.

"I'm relieved he's OK," she said. "I'm very disappointed in communication, the procedures that were taken, and I think this can be prevented."

According to the district, it is reminding all of its drivers about the protocols: to clear the bus at the school and then again at the bus barn.

There's no word on what disciplinary action could be, if any, taken against the bus driver.