Left to fend for themselves: two Texas elementary students trapped on school bus

Keller ISD describes as “inexcusable” the bus provider’s “failure to follow basic procedures.”

Parents of two Keller ISD students want answers after saying their children were left behind on a school bus for about seven hours this week before anyone noticed.

Sanjeeve Neupane of Fort Worth is the father of a 5-year-old girl who will start kindergarten this fall in Keller ISD. This week, Neupane’s daughter was ready to start a summer school program at Basswood Elementary School.

Neupane remembers dropping her daughter off at Sunset Valley Elementary around 7 a.m. Wednesday, where parents were directed to meet the school bus. The bus was supposed to take her daughter and other students to Basswood around 8 a.m., Neupane said.

She received a call around 2 p.m. and was told her daughter was involved in an “accident.”

“When they said it was an accident, I thought it was normal. Like, they peed. That was the first thing that popped into my head,” he said.

Instead, he and his wife ran to a bus parking lot on Alta Vista Road in Fort Worth, where their daughter was.

“There were paramedics. There were police officers. She [daughter] was sweating and everything,” he said. “I don’t have words to say. It’s like a nightmare for any parent. You think your child is going to be safe at your school. You end up somewhere picking up your kid. It doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

Her daughter was not alone. On the bus with her was Ansam’s 5-year-old daughter Dinha, who was also due to be taken to Basswood Elementary School for the same summer school program.

“I tried to talk to her, and I guess that’s what happened maybe. For her, maybe she fell asleep. Maybe she didn’t see the other kids get off the bus,” Dinha said. “She was red all over, unfortunately. Wet. She was kind of shivering from the cold [water] because she got wet. Every time you think about that, my heart gets anxious.”

Neupane said he’s not sure why his daughter didn’t get off the bus either. He said it was possible she was confused, thinking she was supposed to be dropped off at the school she had just attended kindergarten.

“Around 2 p.m., they were waving their hands. Someone was walking by, that’s how they found out,” she said, describing how an adult was finally able to find the two girls.

In a statement Friday, Keller ISD said the district was aware of the incident and had communicated with the transportation provider to ensure the situation was properly addressed and that the appropriate steps were taken so it would not happen again.

“We are thankful that, in this situation, both students were unharmed after being examined by medical services. However, Keller ISD families trust us daily with the safety of their children, and the failure to follow basic procedures in this situation is inexcusable,” the NBC 5 statement read.

Dinha said she feels the situation could have been handled differently if someone had simply checked the bus before departing.

“My message is that when you take children away from their parents, make sure they are in good hands. They are with the person responsible for this child. Please,” she said. “I always say thank you, God. I saw my daughter again. She is fine. She is in my hand again. I hope that never happens again. I’m thinking about how I’m going to let her go to school again.”

Fort Worth police responded to the incident Wednesday. A department spokesman said it is too early to know whether potential charges will be filed.

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