Parent upset her child missed school bus, had to walk home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Malissa Kolbe, 38, has lost confidence in the Duval County school bus transportation system.

"It is not only my child who should be taken care of," said Kolbe, "it is every child."

Fifty thousand children ride Duval County school buses daily. Three of those children belong to Kolbe. On Tuesday, when she went to the bus stop to meet her children, her eight-year-old son was not there.

"This is the second incident that my son was not on the bus," she said.

She said when she called San Mateo Elementary School, she was told he was on the bus and no one knew his whereabouts.

"He was lost for 40 minutes," said Kolbe, "and the school could not give me an explanation for where my son was for those 40 minutes."

Apparently, he was walking home and was picked up by a couple 1.4 miles from the school on busy North Main Street.

"For 40 minutes, it was sheer terror thinking the worst," she said.

She said a Daniel Dewitt brought her son home safely. Kolbe said the school system failed her.

School district spokesperson Tia Ford said bus loading is controlled at the school level not at the district.

"San Mateo Elementary has a system" Ford said. "The kids meet in the media center and are escorted to their buses by a teacher."

Ford said the bus driver is familiar with the regular riders and alerts the staff or school administration if a child is missing.

"What happened that day is there was a substitute driver on the bus," said Ford.

Wednesday, Kolbe met with the school principal; they apologized and offered several options:

-The assistant principal or security guard will escort her son to the bus

-The bus driver will count and double-count the students before leaving

Kolbe declined the offers and said she will take her child to school every day for the rest of the school year.

"I no longer trust the system to ensure my child's safety," said Kolbe.


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