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

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a different drum
a different drum 09/23/08 - 10:53 pm
Thoughtful -- You should tell

Thoughtful -- You should tell us the truth. Are there school bus drives with worst records?

a different drum
a different drum 09/23/08 - 11:21 pm
Thoughtful -- I am curious --

Thoughtful -- I am curious -- these accidents they say she had -- were they while she was driving the school bus or in her personal car? Listening to the radio I got the impression it was while at work -- I could have misunderstood it as they did not get into a lot of details. Driving a large school bus it would be easy to scrape the sides when turning corners and have little minor accidents. When I hear 5 accidents that sounds bad to me, but it may not be as bad as it sounds -- who knows.

christian134 09/24/08 - 05:09 am
I have no sympathy for anyone

I have no sympathy for anyone who applies for a job that places them in charge of children's lives only to find out they are not as qualified as they thought...She should have been let go after the 1st accident or at the very least suspended with a warning any further violations would result in dismissal...The last thing children need to worry about would have to be their safety at the hands of a driver...Much like an airplane pilot would say "oops" when he "accidently" scrapes the wing of his plane on the tarmac which just happen tos be full of people...

Amanda J. Wilson
Amanda J. Wilson 09/26/08 - 07:51 pm
Kids falling a sleep on a bus

Kids falling a sleep on a bus happens more than most people think. I am 26 years old now. I lived in the small community of Dearing Ga growing up. I was about 5-6 years old. I woke up on the bus not knowing where i was. I later noticed the bus driver across the road. While calling the school his wife fixed me pancakes and orange juice for bk. Later he drove me to school and dropped me off kissed my foreheard and said he would see me this after noon. I dont ever remember hearing my parents fuss about what had happened. I under stand that this lady had several accidents and my self would not want my child on the bus if she was careless. All in all not all children left on a bus are in danger. Most children if the are lost are taught to knock on a door and ask for help. not really blaming the parents but seems to me this kid was old enough to know that instead of wondering the streets.

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