Stevenage autistic boy, 5, left on school bus for two hours
- Credit: Archant
A FIVE-YEAR-OLD autistic boy left behind on a school bus was not discovered until two hours later.
Muhamheed Umayeer Chowdhury, who lives in Stevenage, attends Woolgrove School in Letchworth GC.
On the morning of the incident, the school minibus collected him from home as normal and arrived at Woolgrove School at 8.30am.
But Umayeer, as he is known, had fallen asleep and the assistant on the bus failed to check that the bus was empty.
The driver drove off unaware he was still onboard and it was not until 10.30am, when the driver sounded the horn of the bus, that Umayeer woke up and was discovered.
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His parents were unaware that he had not arrived at school until 11am, when the school called to tell them what had happened.
Umayeer’s mother, Shammi Chowdhury, said: “We were extremely upset about what had happened and that this had happened to a child with a disability who finds it hard to communicate.
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“We appreciate that Umayeer has had time off school due to illness many times but I want to make sure this does not happen to any child again, whether disabled or not.”
Umayeer’s uncle, Rohim Ali, who has been liaising with the school on behalf of his parents, said: “The school apologised but we felt they did not appreciate the seriousness of the situation and blamed the council transport service.
“My belief is that if there had been the right procedures in place it would not have happened. It could have been more serious – it’s not what happened but what could have happened.”
The assistant employed by the taxi firm has since been dismissed and the driver reprimanded.
Woolgrove headteacher Susan Selley said: “Transport is provided by the local authority. They organise contracts with different taxi firms. The escorts, who are employed by the taxi firms, are responsible for ensuring all children are delivered to the school by handing them over to school staff.
“Unfortunately this child was left on the bus unbeknown to the members of staff attending to arrivals. The bus door was closed and it was assumed all children had been released.”
She added: “The child in question has been ill previously with a severe ear infection and a message has always been relayed to the teacher about his absence during the morning, so it was not entirely unusual for him not to be on the bus.
“It is school policy to contact parents mid-morning if a child does not attend and there is no telephone message from home to explain their absence.
“To prevent this from ever happening again, the new escort is being provided with a tick sheet to record who has been collected each day.”
A spokesman for Herts County Council said: “The safety and wellbeing of all children using home to school transport is a top priority. We therefore took this incident extremely seriously as the situation clearly was not acceptable.
“We are working with the school to ensure there is a robust procedure in place which would avoid any similar incident happening in the future.”