A local school district has changed its policy for people picking up young children from bus stops.
When bus drivers don’t know the person picking a student up from a bus stop, they’re supposed to take the child back to the school.
Recently, a bus driver didn’t follow that rule when dropping off a pre-K student from Belle Valley School, according to Belle Valley District 119 Superintendent R.Dane Gale.
Students in pre-K are younger than 5 years old, so there are specific rules to get them home safely. Someone must meet them at the bus stop. Gale said parents give a list of people who are allowed to do so.
About two weeks ago, Gale said a bus driver let a student leave with someone who wasn’t authorized to pick the child up because the driver didn’t check the parents’ list.
Capt. Bruce Fleshren said the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department was called Oct. 12 about a child who was taken off the bus by someone other than a parent.
Fleshren said law enforcement determined the individual was a neighbor, who walked the child home, and that it was a “non-criminal event.” He said the neighbor never attempted to keep the child from the parents.
The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department is no longer investigating, according to Fleshren.
Harmony-Emge District 175 employs the bus drivers who transport pre-K students from Belle Valley, according to Gale. He said older Belle Valley students ride buses operated by Belleville District 201.
District 175 Superintendent Pam Leonard said she couldn’t comment because it’s a personnel matter.
The incident has led to a change at Belle Valley District 119. Gale said Belle Valley worked with Harmony-Emge to come up with “more stringent guidelines” for people picking children up.
From now on, instead of just a name, bus drivers will also have birth dates and driver’s license numbers for anyone authorized to pick a child up to prevent against fake IDs.
The district announced the policy change in a letter sent to parents Monday.
“Any time we find instances where we can improve on student safety, we’re going to make those changes, and in this case, I feel that it needed to be changed,” Gale said.