Bentonville, Arkansas (KNWA/KFTA) — A Bentonville parent of a kindergartener who was left on a school bus for hours spoke to the school board Tuesday.
Michael and Michella Carpenter detailed to board members that their son Charlie was left on the bus and found by a maintenance worker. The carpenter said that Charlie was hot and soaked with his own urine.
“He cried four times, four times, and he said it many times, and no one heard him cry,” Michela Carpenter said.
The carpenters have raised their concerns with the school board to ensure this does not happen to other children in the area.
“At least one person is still negligent, and I still believe there are multiple levels of negligence,” Michela said.
Michela said Charlie was doing better on Tuesday and went to school, but Michael Carpenter said he wouldn’t take the bus again.
“He now has a fear of how this will affect him when he goes to the field,” Michael said.
Another parent contacted KNWA/FOX 24 to say their child had been left on the bus last year after falling asleep and not dropped off at the school. The parent, who asked not to be named, said their child is older and has a mobile phone. Children were able to contact their parents for help and were not harmed.
Every school board member apologized to the Carpenters at the meeting, including board chair Eric White.
“We knew it could be worse, and we took it very seriously,” White said.
White said the school district will investigate the matter. He said the bus driver should have checked the bus after dropping off the children, but that didn’t happen in Charlie’s case on Monday.
“Training is important, we have a human-based double-check system, but in this case we failed,” White said. “We’re layering technology with our new transit system.”
Bentonville Public Schools implemented a new system this year called “Transportant” to track when children get on and off the bus. However, the ability to notify parents when students get on and off to scan has not been implemented. White said the feature should be up and running by mid-October, and the recent incident shows how important it is for the region to have the system fully operational.
The Carpenters said they will continue to follow up on the incident to ensure safety remains Bentonville’s top priority.