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First day hiccups lead to child left on school bus

School Bus
Posted at 4:38 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 14:22:12-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Lexington mom is puzzled and looking for accountability after she says her daughter was left on the school bus and couldn't be located.

What Chantel Walker thought would be an exciting first day of school for her seven-year-old daughter Kendrea, turned into a mom's worst nightmare. She wasn't at the bus stop after the school day when her father went to pick her up.

"They said she got off with a group of girls, they don't know where she's at," said Chantel. "I was terrified."

She and her husband John Walker dropped everything to get answers Wednesday and were striking out everywhere.

"I had a chance to experience the realness when I was the one at the bus stop and she didn't show up," explained John.

He says they called the school, the bus garage, and eventually, a swarm of police headed out looking for Kendrea.

"Kendrea is smart. She knows our address. At this point, it's 3:45, almost 4:00. I'm thinking the worst. I'm thinking she's in the bushes or in somebody's basement," said Chantel.

WLEX was there for the aftermath and capture police going door to door talking to neighbors.

Eventually, the driver checked the bus after getting the call from the dispatcher and that's when they found Kendrea. She was asleep on the empty bus and was missed during the driver's check.

"I don't think that it's just solely on the bus driver," said John. "I think that the school board and the bus whoever controls that, all of them play a factor in this."

Jordan Saas with the Lexington Fire Department says there were three students reported missing yesterday, specifically because of a bus mishap.

When we reached out to Fayette County Public Schools, a spokesperson said in a statement while they can't discuss individual cases, they take their responsibility to deliver students safely seriously and are investigating each of the incidents to determine where a break in protocol may have happened to prevent future issues.

Full Statement:

"We take very seriously our responsibility to deliver students safely to and from school, and as such, have developed detailed procedures to guide the dismissal and transportation process. There is no room for error when it comes to student safety and these situations were unacceptable. We are investigating each of these incidents to determine where a breakdown in our protocols may have occurred and will take all appropriate steps to prevent future issues of this kind." -Lisa Deffendall, Spokeswoman, Fayette County Public Schools

But for these parents who didn't know where their child was, that response doesn't go far enough.

"I think it's dangerous that the bus that my child was on had kindergarteners to fifth graders and there was no bus monitor," said John. "She had all of those children by herself on the first day of school."