UPDATE: Durham School Services reported Thursday that the bus driver who left two students unattended Tuesday on a school bus is no longer an employee of Durham, according to a Hamilton County Department of Education news release.
"Our very first priority in any situation is the safety and well-being of the children entrusted to us by the parents and families of this community," said Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. "In every situation from the child boarding a bus in the morning to activities in the classroom or at school, the safety of children drives everything we do as a school system."
ORIGINAL STORY: Two Hamilton County Schools students were left unattended on a disabled school bus on a Durham School Service lot on Dodds Avenue Tuesday morning.
The students, who were siblings, were brought to the bus lot by their mother who is employed as a bus monitor. Employees can bring their children to the lot where they can catch a bus to their school. Conflicting accounts attribute that policy to Durham School Service, which falls under their parent company, National Express, or as a Hamilton County Department of Education policy.
The students were on a bus as a driver prepared for his route, but when the driver realized there was a problem with the bus, he switched buses to complete his route. In that transition process, the students did not make it onto the new bus.
The students were left unattended for about an hour and were discovered by a Durham dispatcher who works at that lot, according to Hamilton County Schools spokesman Tim Hensley.
"We have begun the process of investigating what exactly happened," said National Express spokeswoman Kate Walden. "We have taken statements and will discuss disciplinary action after the internal investigation is completed in a day or so."
According to Hensley, the district was not notified of the incident until Wednesday, but Walden could not confirm that process.
The district is "working with Durham to shore up communication policies and procedures," according to Hensley, especially in regards to reporting such incidents. According to the district, the driver who left the students unattended did not drive his normal route Wednesday, however that was not confirmed by Durham.