Bus driver leaves girl, 5, at Berckmans Road stop

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A Richmond County school bus driver was relieved of duties pending an investigation Tuesday, a day after being accused of leaving a 5-year-old girl alone along Berckmans Road.

The kindergartner wandered in the heat until passersby helped reunite her with her family, said Linda Gelinas, the girl's grandmother. Emma Sullivan was supposed to be at an after-school program, but paperwork was lost and she was sent home from C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School by bus.

No one discovered Emma missing until her father arrived at C.T. Walker to pick her up, Ms. Gelinas said. All the while, Emma walked from the bus stop near one of the entrances of Augusta National Golf Club to her apartment complex, which is also on Berckmans Road.

Emma's family wants to know why the "tiny" girl of about 40 pounds was left on the side of a well-traveled road, crying, sweaty and scared.

"No one even called (Monday) night to make sure she had been found," Ms. Gelinas said. She worried that Emma might have been taken or hit by a car.

Superintendent Dana Bedden's office issued a news release Tuesday afternoon, stating he was informed of the situation Monday and that no decision would be made on the bus driver's fate until all information is collected.

Emma's mother, Kristin Sullivan, said she filled out paperwork about how her daughter would be transported to and from school during an open house Friday. She wrote down that her daughter would ride the bus to school and be picked up when her after-school program was over.

"No one at the office can say what happened to those forms," Mrs. Sullivan said.

A substitute teacher asked Emma if she rode the bus, and she said yes, her mother said.

Despite objections from other students on the bus and a tearful Emma, the driver told her to get off the bus, Mrs. Sullivan said. She walked from the bus stop to the back of her apartment complex in the afternoon heat, checked the door to her apartment and walked back to her stop.

During a frantic search, Mrs. Sullivan called the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, which was preparing to issue an Amber Alert, she said.

Emma was found by an off-duty Columbia County reserve sheriff's deputy and his wife, who was delivering flowers in the area, Mrs. Sullivan said.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

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patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 08/15/07 - 03:16 am
0
0
A teacher put her on the bus

A teacher put her on the bus with only the word of a 5 year old to go by? and the driver put her off with no adult to accept her? Even "bottom of the barrel" employees should be capable of some sort of decision making. What's the minimum requirement for employment? An ability to breathe?

mike
0
Points
mike 08/15/07 - 03:53 am
0
0
Typical Richmond County

Typical Richmond County schools.....

itamazezme
0
Points
itamazezme 08/15/07 - 03:56 am
0
0
I don't understand what was

I don't understand what was going thru that driver's mind. When my child attended C. T. Walker the bus driver had to drive up to my house and let my child out and wait and watch for her to go inside. If I was running late from picking up my other children the driver put her back on the bus and would come back after dropping off several other students. Maybe, I just had a great driver. I say we take this driver and drop him/her off in the heat of the day for several hours and see how it feels.

redapples
700
Points
redapples 08/15/07 - 04:56 am
0
0
This is truly a time when the

This is truly a time when the community as a whole should be outraged! So many times parents complain without reasonable cause, but this is outrageous. Someone along the way should have used "common" sense.

Jenn30907
0
Points
Jenn30907 08/15/07 - 05:18 am
0
0
The school administration

The school administration should be blamed as well. Is one day really sufficient to process all the paperwork they have us fill out at open house? Open house should be done a week before school starts. This gives everyone time to double check information.

Ole School
1
Points
Ole School 08/15/07 - 05:26 am
0
0
off-duty Columbia County

off-duty Columbia County reserve sheriff's deputy ??? no such thing, they people are ALWAYS WORKING.... to protect and serve and this should show that , GREAT WORK COP!

worriedboutdafuture
5
Points
worriedboutdafuture 08/15/07 - 05:34 am
0
0
I am a parent of 5 year old

I am a parent of 5 year old twins (boy & girl). This incident upsets me to the point of what in the world is going on with this school system to let such a tragic event happen!. thank god someone with some sense and sanity found this young girl and returned her to her parents!! Imagine if it were the other way around and the worst happened to her in this day and age!! The bus drivers fate should already be sealed!( Fired!) and that school should be held accountable as well (Legal action/Lawsuit!!) For negligence!!! Don't let this happen to another 5 year old or any age child!! God bless that Police officer who got her to safety!!

justsoyaknow
3
Points
justsoyaknow 08/15/07 - 05:35 am
0
0
I, too, have a five year old

I, too, have a five year old in school. If a bus driver left him, alone, on a road that busy....I can assure you that nobody would have to be concerned about that driver's employment -- there would be much greater issues at stake.

DeborahElliott2
4
Points
DeborahElliott2 08/15/07 - 05:36 am
0
0
Why is this the Bus Driver's

Why is this the Bus Driver's Fault?? You think that people at school would share the blame because they lost the paperwork to begin with and the teachers put that kid on the bus to begin with!!!!

meatball
0
Points
meatball 08/15/07 - 05:56 am
0
0
It is a disgrace how this was

It is a disgrace how this was dandled. That poor little girl left on her own, The entire school orginazation is to blame for this. they lose paperwork, faster than you can give it to them in all of the schools around here. I know if I was her mom i certainly would not let this slide by. Because then whats next. I too have children in school, and I can tell you this, if they left one of my children, there would be hell to pay, once I found my child and knew that they were safe. These schools are more interested in the trivial things, than the most important "OUR CHILDREN"

Rudy4364
0
Points
Rudy4364 08/15/07 - 06:08 am
0
0
I sure hope this little girls

I sure hope this little girls shirt was tucked in otherwise it will become a dress code violation, which we all know is the real culprit of all of Richmond County Schools problems!

granny6
0
Points
granny6 08/15/07 - 06:17 am
0
0
There is NO excuse for any of

There is NO excuse for any of this!!! Who in their right mind would leave a 5 year old alone on Berkmans Road anyway?? The bus does have a radio for emergencies! There should be action taken from the Principal that didn't follow through to make sure she was found to the Bus Driver that didn't see her SAFELY HOME!!!
What a disgrace in our school system. No wonder families are fleeing Richmond County Schools.

It will be interesting to see how our NEW superintendent handles this one!

Bizarro
13
Points
Bizarro 08/15/07 - 06:19 am
0
0
I see dominoes that should be

I see dominoes that should be falling. Hell knows no fury like an enraged parent concerned about their child. I use to feel comfortable and safe about a child in public school-no more.

wise
1
Points
wise 08/15/07 - 06:23 am
0
0
Why would any one in their

Why would any one in their right mind kick a 5 year old off the bus crying and leave them there. One of the job requirements for a bus driver should be compassion for children. If I was her parent I would sue the whole school system and they would be creating Emma's law to prevent this from happening to others.

lady51
0
Points
lady51 08/15/07 - 06:31 am
0
0
Uh CT Walker. Isnt yhis

Uh CT Walker. Isnt yhis school one of the gest school in the state of GA. Someone needs to do another survey

whatisreallygoingon
0
Points
whatisreallygoingon 08/15/07 - 06:55 am
0
0
This is a perfect example as

This is a perfect example as to why I will NEVER put my child on a bus in Richmond County. Thank godness the child was okay. Now I wonder, with all the hype about the new Superintendent, what will be the outcome of this recent FAUX PAS.

mrwillard
0
Points
mrwillard 08/15/07 - 06:59 am
0
0
To the parents of the little

To the parents of the little girl, time to call an attorney. Maybe they will pay attention after having to pay damages. This is an outrage. Everyone from the teacher on down should be fired.

karmakills123
8
Points
karmakills123 08/15/07 - 07:04 am
0
0
Is this one of those poor

Is this one of those poor mis-understood drivers who was plotting a "sit in" to voice concerns about how they are treated????? Whoever this driver is ,,,being fired is not good enough....If I was this childs parent I would go after him or her BIG time!!!!! Heartless fool.

BE-4-REAL
0
Points
BE-4-REAL 08/15/07 - 07:07 am
0
0
When would a parent not make

When would a parent not make sure their 5 year old on the first day of school, made it where yhey needed to be?What if after school was canceled? There should be someone waiying on their child espeicly on the very first day.My kids always got dropped off and the bus drove off.come on the school system is not a babysitting service.But it seens that most in richmond county thinks so.What about all the kids that get home late because some parent was not waiting on their child and you kept them on the bus and have to keep going back over and over.
This is not right everyone involved should be held acountable even the parents of this county.

RAPC
0
Points
RAPC 08/15/07 - 07:08 am
0
0
I wonder why what happen in

I wonder why what happen in Columbia County havent been report yet. It was with a small child also. Bus drivers do not have time to see if every parent is at home.

reruns
0
Points
reruns 08/15/07 - 07:12 am
0
0
Bus drivers have almost 40 to

Bus drivers have almost 40 to 50 kids sometimes on a bus. They don't get he paperwork thatthe teachers do. I blame the teacher and the office at the school for mishandled paperwork. Futhermore, the bus driver shoudl have been more compasionate on the other hand she was doing their job. They are trained to transport not to babysit. Maybe they need training on how to handle children when the school messes up.

MALAYSIA
0
Points
MALAYSIA 08/15/07 - 07:15 am
0
0
The fault first begins with

The fault first begins with the school. If the child was neverv put on the bus, none of this would have happened. The bus driver is put on leave but nothing happens to the school? Start at the top and work your way down if your going to hand out repremands.

reruns
0
Points
reruns 08/15/07 - 07:16 am
0
0
also about the filing suit

also about the filing suit against the school system. You tax dollars will pay for the "damages." Also taking money from the classroom and training.

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 08/15/07 - 07:36 am
0
0
While I am NOT condoning

While I am NOT condoning anything that happened, please remember that the TEACHER was a substitute. She asked a valid question that was answered by Emma. So she did what she thought was right. Losing paperwork is a chronic problem everywhere. Something similar to this happened to me, when I was in grammar school. Of course, the earth was still cooling, when I was in grammar school. I got off the bus at the wrong stop, and had to walk all the way home. It was not fun. I'm glad that everything actually worked out. Just please have a little restraint here, and let the thing play out. Quit talking about firing people, getting a lawyer, let's just just find out where the failure occurred and fix it, so that it doesn't happen again. Why did the mom immediately go to the TV station ??

TrulyBlessed
0
Points
TrulyBlessed 08/15/07 - 07:38 am
0
0
In years past, teacher

In years past, teacher assignments were made and paperwork was completed in the spring or summer, with plenty of time for teachers to learn about their students and prepare appropriate organizational tools (e.g., bus-rider name tags) to prevent this sort of thing. The current administration at the school feels it is too much trouble make teacher assingments and do paperwork in advance because corrections have to be made for students who move in or out of the school during the summer. So, Walker parents rushed to do paperwork at orientation on Friday evening and the teachers only had until Monday to review the paperwork and learn about their students. Certainly, the bus driver was at fault, but this problem started with bad policy from the administration.

yesyes
0
Points
yesyes 08/15/07 - 07:39 am
0
0
I know the little girl must

I know the little girl must have been extremely upset and scared. The week before school started, every day I went over what would happen and where they would go afterschool so my 5 year old would know what would be happening. I am very surprised that happened at CT Walker as both my children are students there. ALL kindergarteners at CT Walker must were a transportation badge giving their name, the teachers name and modes of transportation both AM and PM. I find it hard to believe that the bus driver made the child get off the bus. The child probably saw her apartment complex and got off with several other children. I am sorry this happened but the blame does not lay on one person. The parent should have informed the child where she would be going in the afternoon. The school shouldn't have lost the paperwork and the bus driver shouldn't have let a 5 year old get off the bus without an adult waiting on the child.

VOICE
0
Points
VOICE 08/15/07 - 07:40 am
0
0
I am sorry when my children

I am sorry when my children were that young until a system was in place I made sure my child arrived safely from a to b. If no one at school had the paperwork what were they suppose to do??? ASSUME!! Everytime I turn around someone wants to sue or get someone fired. If Richmond county is so horrible GET OUT!!!

justo100
0
Points
justo100 08/15/07 - 07:43 am
0
0
n/a

reruns
0
Points
reruns 08/15/07 - 07:46 am
0
0
Sue the system you will be

Sue the system you will be flaged as a trouble maker for life. Would you want that reputation for you and your child? Private schools don't like trouble makers either.

WorriedAboutOurFuture
16
Points
WorriedAboutOurFuture 08/15/07 - 07:49 am
0
0
First, I have to make a

First, I have to make a disclaimer: WORRIEDABOUTDAFUTURE definitely is not I. It's pretty sleazy to slide up on someone else's display name that way, IMO. I wish this person could write better given the tendency to confuse the two names.

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