Driver is fired after she left 9-year-old sleeping on bus

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A Richmond County school bus driver with a history of minor accidents has been fired after leaving a 9-year-old child alone on her bus earlier this month.

An internal investigation found that Mirna Neal neglected to check her bus when she finished her morning routes on Sept. 2. An English as a Second Language pupil had fallen asleep on the bus.

Ms. Neal, an 11-year employee of the transportation department, dropped off children at Glenn Hills Elementary, proceeded to Morgan Road Middle School and then returned to her home on Bennock Mill Road while the child slept.

The child woke up, didn't know where he was and began to walk around the neighborhood, according to Ms. Neal's termination letter, which was signed by Superintendent Dana Bedden.

A stranger passing by noticed the child, picked him up and took him to school.

"While the child was not physically harmed, he was upset and scared," the letter said. "Moreover, he could have been struck by traffic, kidnapped or harmed."

School board policy requires that bus drivers check each seat to ensure that no one is left aboard, but she did not conduct a check of the bus, the investigation found.

Calls to Ms. Neal's home went unanswered, but she admitted in a statement that she had not checked her bus.

Her middle school children tend to sit in the back of the bus, she said. When Glenn Hills pupils are dropped off, the Morgan Road pupils move forward and help out when a younger child falls asleep.

In the short, handwritten statement, Ms. Neal said she was sorry "but I assume no one was on the bus when I drove the bus home."

It wasn't the first problem Ms. Neal has had as a bus driver.

In December, Director of Transportation Michael Shinn issued her a "memorandum of concern" for having what he considered to be an excessive number of traffic accidents, all of which were determined to be her fault.

In five years, Ms. Neal was involved in six school bus accidents, according to her personnel file.

Mr. Shinn sent the memo up the supervisory channels, but no outcome was recorded in her personnel file.

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

Comments (63) Add comment
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Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 09/23/08 - 03:29 am
0
0
Finally, the RCBOE's hired a

Finally, the RCBOE's hired a superintendent who's willing to fire an employee who deserves it. KUDOS to Dr. Bedden for having the guts to do what needed to be done tp protect the children entrusted to the care of his school system.

ladysingstheblues
0
Points
ladysingstheblues 09/23/08 - 06:17 am
0
0
I hate to say it, but it is

I hate to say it, but it is most certainly for the best that they let this one go. Wonder if they ever did a drug test with all the accidents and all?

christian134
1
Points
christian134 09/23/08 - 06:28 am
0
0
Bus drivers should

Bus drivers should automatically be made to submit to a very stringent background check and then even after they are hired they need to have mandatory drug and alcohol screenings several times a year...After all they in charge of hundreds of children and that is not to be taken lightly....

c1212
0
Points
c1212 09/23/08 - 06:48 am
0
0
this bus driver worked the

this bus driver worked the glenn hills/ morgan rd area and was allowed to take her bus home, all the way to bennock mill rd? no wonder my taxes are going up again

jasall18
1
Points
jasall18 09/23/08 - 09:01 am
0
0
I do not think this woman

I do not think this woman deserved to fired for a first offense. Are people expected to be more than human in this world today. Yes it was a gregious oversight, but come on now?

Does_it_really_matter
1
Points
Does_it_really_matter 09/23/08 - 09:10 am
0
0
First offense? Maybe the

First offense? Maybe the first time she left a child....but the six accidents seem excessive to me.....no, not a first offense

Cody_Webster
0
Points
Cody_Webster 09/23/08 - 09:18 am
0
0
Bennock Mill Road ..... The

Bennock Mill Road .....
The child woke up, didn't know where he was and began to walk around the neighborhood.
A stranger passing by noticed the child, picked him up and took him to school.
Glenn Hills Elementary or Morgan Road Middle School
The above are all direct from the article in paper... Look at them closely, sounds like a set up to get rid of a poor performance driver. What dumb-_ss person would pick up a 9 year old boy and drive from Bennock Mill Road to Morgan Road risking a possible abduction charge by law enforcement if things happen to go bad?
In respect to firing for 5 accidents, that was way to long, should have happened after 2nd one. Now let's get the rest of those NASCAR school bus drivers under control or under employed.

shockproof
0
Points
shockproof 09/23/08 - 09:49 am
0
0
You all don't know half the

You all don't know half the story...this is just an incident at the transportation department...you think it's the only area in school system that has personnel problems? This is a common, everyday and unfortunate situation that plagues all school systems...grow up readers.

BarstoolDreamer
19
Points
BarstoolDreamer 09/23/08 - 10:04 am
0
0
I hear "We need to hire

I hear "We need to hire better people...just don't raise my taxes to do it"

InChristLove
22473
Points
InChristLove 09/23/08 - 10:05 am
0
0
If the driver parked the bus

If the driver parked the bus at her residence then why didn't the child go up to the house and knock on the door instead of wandering around the neighborhood. This was an 11 year old child not a 5 year old who might not know better. I agree that firing the driver seems excessive for a one time mistake but this driver has had more than her fair share of accidents which in almost any other driving position she would have been fired before now.

Queen4842
3
Points
Queen4842 09/23/08 - 10:41 am
0
0
People this entire incident

People this entire incident could have been avoided has she just done her job. It is policy that all runs are finished with the bus driver walking the entire length of the bus and checking it. Period. This way no children can be left on the bus. I am sorry but how hard is this for the lazy azz to accomplish? She deserved to be fired.

ladyfox2008@yahoo.com
0
Points
ladyfox2008@yahoo.com 09/23/08 - 10:45 am
0
0
You say to hire good people.

You say to hire good people. That is hard. People come in sounding good and look good. First 4 or 5 months doing good and then their performance goes out the windows. This person has more than this child incident agsinst her. 6 accidents where is your brain. If your child got hurt or killed on these accidents and they didn't do anything what will you think. This child was 9 and not 11 and English being his second language. How do you know if this child knocked on the door or not and maybe she wouldn't answer it and made sure she didn't check the bus. Anyway these bus drivers like some of these day care van drivers think that they own the highways. They will run you over. During these time of day we need more cops and even marshell Ibelieve patrolling these schools zones. Budget or not these are our children that we are talking about. THE SAFETY OF OUR CHILDREN NEED TO BE FIRST. if WE DON'T PROTECT THEM WHO WILL.

live4now
0
Points
live4now 09/23/08 - 11:03 am
0
0
I'm glad they fired her. If

I'm glad they fired her. If it were your child you would be too. If she would have done her job properly then she would still have a job. please people she deserved it.

willistontownsc
55
Points
willistontownsc 09/23/08 - 11:25 am
0
0
now, what are they going to

now, what are they going to do with the bus driver that dropped that poor kid off half a mile away from home in an electrical storm?

CoastalDawg
125
Points
CoastalDawg 09/23/08 - 11:44 am
0
0
InChristLove, did you not

InChristLove, did you not understand that the child is an English as a second language child (and what might THAT mean? Why not just say what is meant?) That could be a reason for the wandering around the neighborhood. As far as taking the child to school, I don't see that as a problem but I believe that I would have called the school board rather than take a risk of being charged with some crime that didn't happen.

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 09/23/08 - 12:14 pm
0
0
It was a 9 year old, not an
Unpublished

It was a 9 year old, not an 11 year old. Who probably didn't speak good English and woke up in unfamiliar territory. She should have been fired after the first couple incidents.

i.b.e.w..electric
0
Points
i.b.e.w..electric 09/23/08 - 01:36 pm
0
0
english as a second language

english as a second language child,prob a damn mexican .well another american job lost because of a mexican ,lol

ibeewalkingtamemphis
0
Points
ibeewalkingtamemphis 09/23/08 - 01:50 pm
0
0
The driver had to be white.

The driver had to be white.

InChristLove
22473
Points
InChristLove 09/23/08 - 02:01 pm
0
0
coastaldawg, I understand

coastaldawg, I understand completely that this child is an English as a second language child but this doesn't mean the child can not speak at least some English. In todays world I agree with you about calling the school board or at least the law enforcement division. Well meaning situations can turn ugly real fast. Evidently the child could speak well enough to convey to this adult who took him to school where he needed to be.

HillGuy
7
Points
HillGuy 09/23/08 - 02:13 pm
0
0
The correct procedure is to

The correct procedure is to inspect the bus at the end of the route to prevent something like this from happening. The driver failed to do this. It's just that simple. Things could have turned out much worse.. luckily they did not, and the child is fine.

jewel
3
Points
jewel 09/23/08 - 02:39 pm
0
0
The driver was brown

The driver was brown

HYPOCRITES 08
7
Points
HYPOCRITES 08 09/23/08 - 02:51 pm
0
0
The driver was a Martian.

The driver was a Martian. What an idiot.

ibeewalkingtamemphis
0
Points
ibeewalkingtamemphis 09/23/08 - 03:32 pm
0
0
hippy, sorry I missed you

hippy, sorry I missed you while I was in aug today. Don't know why you didn't tell me the station so I could come visit. You can't have guests at the mission I guess.

corgimom
32303
Points
corgimom 09/23/08 - 03:35 pm
0
0
Most 9 year olds wouldn't

Most 9 year olds wouldn't know what to do in a situation like that, English speaking or not.

Cestlavie
134
Points
Cestlavie 09/23/08 - 03:53 pm
0
0
Now if we could only get the

Now if we could only get the drunk principal fired.

shockproof
0
Points
shockproof 09/23/08 - 04:01 pm
0
0
why aren't we at work instead

why aren't we at work instead of writing all this crap?

ex-Augustan1
0
Points
ex-Augustan1 09/23/08 - 04:12 pm
0
0
I am glad to hear that this

I am glad to hear that this person was let go, however it seems that it was long overdue. This is the EXACT reason I would never allow my children to be bused. If a worker like this can go under the radar and keep her job, it makes me wonder what other incidents are being over looked. These are our children and we have to protect them. I think that EVERY bus drivers record should be reviewed on a VERY REGUALR BASIS as well as when things like this occur. No one should get that many strikes before they are out, especially when dealing with the lives of innocent children!

ibeewalkingtamemphis
0
Points
ibeewalkingtamemphis 09/23/08 - 04:35 pm
0
0
hippy, I'm sorry, she was

hippy, I'm sorry, she was black!!!

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 09/23/08 - 05:26 pm
0
0
ex-Augustan: Other incidents

ex-Augustan: Other incidents in Augusta-Richmond County are not being overlooked. As a matter of fact, they are normally rewarded with a promotion!

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 09/23/08 - 05:30 pm
0
0
I notice that Mr. Fennoy was

I notice that Mr. Fennoy was rewarded today by the Coliseum Authority with another $10,000 to pay his legal bill. They didn't even vote on it, just said it was authorized by the previous vote that paid the first $3,000. I guess it is so open ended that they will pay any future legal fees and/or fines as a result of his fight with Mr. Merry.

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