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.

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HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 09/23/08 - 05:34 pm
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She was Black, so what? She

She was Black, so what? She was not the first Black fired and will not be the last one. Such trivial B.S.

M23
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M23 09/23/08 - 05:35 pm
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Jasall18 - try to explain it

Jasall18 - try to explain it not being fair to fire this woman to the parents of the child that she put in danger. Those parents are VERY lucky that their elementary student (one that apparently does not speak English well) is alive and at home. This could have turned TRAGIC very quickly. Apparently you (Jasall18) do not have children. If this happened to my child, I would have more than her job. She didn't do her job (which was to check the bus). She better be glad she was fired and not looking at more serious charges, especially if this little one did not return safely or worse, did not return at all. Ok, Columbia, McDuffie and Aiken County, I know their are bus driver shortages, but for the love of God, please don't hire this woman to drive our children to and from school.

HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 09/23/08 - 05:36 pm
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They should pay. He was

They should pay. He was attacked while attempting to do his job. Not the first time that an employee's legal bill was paid and I am sure that it will not be the last.

No_Longer_Amazed
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No_Longer_Amazed 09/23/08 - 06:01 pm
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HYPOCRITES_08: I am also

HYPOCRITES_08: I am also "sure that it will not be the last." Even though "Mr. Fennoy said Ms. Paschal told him the $10,000 bill is the last bill the authority will receive from her" I wouldn't be surprised for some other lawyer to replace her and suck off the public teat.

whatthefudgebrownies
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whatthefudgebrownies 09/23/08 - 06:12 pm
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yes leaving the child on the

yes leaving the child on the bus was unfortunate and I'm glad the child was found and SAFELY returned and yes the accident history is a bit excessive....so with all of that the bus driver should have been dismissed a long time ago, however, none of these parents are getting arrested or dismissed from their jobs for not parenting!!!! why don't we start have tougher punishments for the parents who don't come to conferences, who leave their children at home unattended, who come to schools in irate manners only to find out it wasn't the teacher but the child....why aren't they held just as responsible as everyone else in society? oh wait, it's No CHILD left behind on behalf of the teacher, but the parents can leave them behind with no consequences.

steve-o
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steve-o 09/23/08 - 06:25 pm
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Why do they only hire senior

Why do they only hire senior citizens and weirdos to drive the busses? They should hire ex-marine drill sgt's and then we'd have peace, and thorough job follow through!

mable8
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mable8 09/23/08 - 06:30 pm
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Since this was not the

Since this was not the driver's "first" offense (5 accidents in 6 years for which she was found to be at fault), she should have been fired some time ago and this incident would have been averted. I don't care if the driver is androgynous and a pea-green and pink Martian, the fact remains, the driver did not deserve to keep the job. Parents entrust their children to school officials from the janitor on up the line and deserve to have their child protected at all costs. This has nothing to do with the racial/age/gender composition of the individual; it has everything to do with a person's ability to perform an assigned job.

i.b.e.w..electric
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i.b.e.w..electric 09/23/08 - 08:04 pm
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well i talked about a mexican

well i talked about a mexican so i got censored,and the funny part is i got censored by a newspaper,what a hoot

HillGuy
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HillGuy 09/23/08 - 08:23 pm
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I'm amazed at how many people

I'm amazed at how many people in Augusta make excuses for incompetence and laziness on the job. This employee did not follow procedures.. and this incompetence could have endangered the safety of a child. And it is beyond me, how someone with this many infractions could still be entrusted with driving a school bus full of kids. I also couldn't believe all of the people calling into Austin Rhodes today defending firefighters taking gashogging firetrucks out on the road to do their personal grocery shopping. Most people would be fired if they took a company vehicle out on company time to do their own personal errands and shopping.

ibeewalkingtamemphis
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ibeewalkingtamemphis 09/23/08 - 08:51 pm
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hippy, yep, she was black,

hippy, yep, she was black, that's why she got by with, wait, how many free passes??? Yes six traffic accidents which were all proved to be her fault. You axxhole are a [filtered word]and I am tired of your BS. You are so big, so black, I will name the time and place and you come "visit" this idiot. Wanta dance?

Thoughtful
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Thoughtful 09/23/08 - 08:53 pm
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Folks, you know only half the

Folks, you know only half the story:

1. This incidence took place on 9/2/08, why are we just hearing about it?

2. The Augusta Chronicle is giving you just one side of the story. They did not try to contact the driver (Believe me, I know. I am not the driver, but very close to the situation)

3. Why not demand that the Chronicle do its job and investigate this situation? There would be a lot to find out about how the Richmond County Board of Education Transportation Department operates.

4. If you ask the other drivers, this person was one of their best drivers.

5. Believe me, there's more to this that 's not being disclosed..

ibeewalkingtamemphis
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ibeewalkingtamemphis 09/23/08 - 08:55 pm
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Hippo, YDABMF, who was

Hippo, YDABMF, who was attacked???? By all accounts I've seen, yo black bro was acting like the monkey he is and was chest butting a smaller man, What, you can't see that for your jutting brow????

Thoughtful
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Thoughtful 09/23/08 - 08:57 pm
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Would you tweens get off the

Would you tweens get off the board and let adults have a serious conversation. Thank you.

No_Longer_Amazed
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No_Longer_Amazed 09/23/08 - 08:58 pm
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ibeewalkingtamemphis
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ibeewalkingtamemphis 09/23/08 - 09:04 pm
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Thoughtnot, did you read the

Thoughtnot, did you read the article???? Crawl back into your crack pipe and jstfu! idiot!

ListenAndLearn
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ListenAndLearn 09/23/08 - 09:06 pm
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I can say that as a bus

I can say that as a bus driver over 20 years ago....closer to 30..I never left anyone on the bus because I checked it. However, I did let a [filtered word] teenager walk back up the road when they deliberately wouldn't tell me where there stop was when I drove a route as a substitute. And guess what....it was in Columbia County. Incidentally, the punk dropped out of school. I didn't feel bad about making him walk or getting him out of the school system. But....drivers have a lot of responsibility and if they failed to do what's required of them and it's this serious...they need to go.

ibeewalkingtamemphis
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ibeewalkingtamemphis 09/23/08 - 09:14 pm
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kk, amen!

kk, amen!

a different drum
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a different drum 09/23/08 - 09:15 pm
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Thoughtful -- reading the

Thoughtful -- reading the story it sounds like the RCBOE did the right thing. Of coursed you are correct too -- this appears to be only one side of the story as is with most of the news articles in the Chronicle -- it was written with information provided by one side -- RCBOE. We are reading their press release. It would be nice if the newspaper had gone out and talked to some of the other bus drives as you suggest. When we only get one side of a story that's propaganda. Perhaps some of the bus drives will leave comments here or perhaps you could tell us more. Having the comment section here does help to balance things out. The article does say they tried to contact the bus drive.

No_Longer_Amazed
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No_Longer_Amazed 09/23/08 - 09:25 pm
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BTurner: Seems as if you have

BTurner: Seems as if you have had a change in your attitude since 5 September!

ibeewalkingtamemphis
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ibeewalkingtamemphis 09/23/08 - 09:58 pm
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UH, BT, she admitted she

UH, BT, she admitted she didn't check the bus, Duh, how stupid are you, really?

a different drum
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a different drum 09/23/08 - 09:59 pm
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No Longer Amazed --- No -- I

No Longer Amazed --- No -- I said they should look at her record first -- it appears they did. There were other problems with her.

a different drum
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a different drum 09/23/08 - 10:02 pm
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When we read the stories in

When we read the stories in the paper most of the time they are press releases put out by one side -- the people may be guilty, but is only one side. People may not want to comment on there side for good reason.

a different drum
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a different drum 09/23/08 - 10:05 pm
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ibeewalking --- You must work

ibeewalking --- You must work for the RCBOE

keepinitreal
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keepinitreal 09/23/08 - 10:20 pm
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According to the rules of how

According to the rules of how the driver is supposed to "Sweep" the bus after all had exited, then there should not have been an issue with the child still being on the bus. Seems to me that her habit of not doing or at least that day got revealed. Maybe if she gets another job doing the same thing it won't happen again. I just hope she can get another job. It won't be easy with all of this information being released.

a different drum
26
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a different drum 09/23/08 - 10:20 pm
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I heard this story on WGAC –

I heard this story on WGAC – As I remember they said she had 5 accidents that were her fault since she had been working there – as a parent this would concern me more than forgetting to check the bus. If this is true they should have gotten rid of her – probably before this. It would be nice to hear her side of the story, if she wanted to talk about it.

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 09/23/08 - 10:28 pm
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BTurner: No longer a problem

BTurner: No longer a problem :-)

a different drum
26
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a different drum 09/23/08 - 10:30 pm
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Driving a school bus is a

Driving a school bus is a stressful job and I can see someone making a mistake and not checking -- probably 99.9 percent of the time there is not going to be anyone on the bus -- I don't think the woman should have been fired for this alone -- she should have been reprimanded for that, but when you put this with the other problems (the 5 accidents). That changes things in my mind, if it is true.

Thoughtful
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Thoughtful 09/23/08 - 10:45 pm
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Like I said earlier, there is

Like I said earlier, there is more to the story. The driver does admit that she made a mistake. There are other drivers that have done the same thing with worse records, yet, they remain employed.

We all seem to be talking as if we are so unaware of the things that take place in organizations. Why not demand a better accounting of the whole story?

I promise you all that there is a lot more to the story that will give you all a different view of the situation. I promise you.

LET THE TRUTH BE TOLD!!!

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 09/23/08 - 11:00 pm
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Thoughtful: If YOU know, then

Thoughtful: If YOU know, then TELL IT.

a different drum
26
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a different drum 09/23/08 - 11:38 pm
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I have sympathy for this

I have sympathy for this woman -- I try to put myself in her place -- I could not drive a school bus loaded with children -- I don't think I could deal with the distractions -- we are all different people suited for different things -- probably this woman should find another line of work not driving a school bus -- I don't think she is a bad person – I hope she can find other work she enjoys doing making more money. Perhaps this will turn out to be a blessing for her.

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