Just getting to school has turned out to be an assignment of its own for 9-year old Devon Vaughn. Twice in one week, he was left wondering whether he was stood up by his own bus.
Normally, mom Michelle Vaughn drops him off by his Riverview stop and then takes her daughter to her school. But last Wednesday, when Michelle returned home, she found Devon and another little girl still waiting.
"I didn't want her to be by herself. So I asked her, 'Are your parents home?' She said no. I knew she was very scared. She knew she wasn't supposed to ride with anybody but she's at the stop by herself," Vaughn said.
It happened again Tuesday morning, only this time her son was alone. When she dropped him off, she went directly to a doctor's appointment.
"He was standing up there crying and somebody that was leaving the community pulled over and gave him a ride to school," she said.
The Hillsborough County School District admits the bus was lagging behind. Normally, they send out a robocall so parents can prepare.
"In this case, we did not do that and we should have done that," Hillsborough County School District spokesman Steve Hegarty said Tuesday.
Hegarty says the buses aren't the problem. They're battling a chronic shortage of bus drivers.
"Maybe somebody called in sick, maybe somebody called in late, maybe they were running behind, whatever the case may be, if we have a bus but we don't have a bus driver, then that's going to slow things down," Hegarty said.
Michelle says that message isn't making it's way to parents.
"If there's this shortage, then let us know so we know there's a good chance that the bus might not show up so we can give our kids back up options or somebody else lined up to take them so you don't have strangers driving by, picking them up," she said.
The school district is looking into the incidents to make sure kids aren't left stranded again.
Hegarty says there's no reason why they can't alert parents. They can actually narrow down their ParentLink alert system to just call the parents of the kids that ride a specific school bus.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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