7 year-old student with special needs left on school bus alone in Duplin County

DUPLIN COUNTY, NC (WITN) - A student with special needs was left on a school bus alone at Beulaville Elementary School in Duplin County for several hours on Thursday.

"Who's got my daughter, what's going on with her? You know that's not a good feeling," said the child's mother, Jaysha Gray.

Gray’s daughter was left on a school bus for about 6 hours on Thursday, and no one from the school has told her what happened, but said the school principal did apologize for the incident.

Gray said, she dropped her daughter off at daycare, where her daughter is then put on the school bus by daycare employees.

Daycare employees told WITN they put the 7 year old on the bus as normal.

Later that day around noon, both the mother of the child and the daycare got phone calls from the school, saying the child was not there, and no one had called in her absence.

The mother said, about an hour later, the school system called her back, saying she was found on the bus.

Gray said her daughter, who is 7 years old, autistic, and doesn't talk, appeared shaken up and was acting unusual when she went to the school after getting the call.

Her mother talked with WITN about the ordeal and said she is angry and upset her daughter was left alone on the bus for the entire school day and no one noticed until the afternoon.

She said, "Whenever you get a call saying that she's not where she supposed to be and you know she supposed to be there and you put her in a place to be there- all the crazy things going on in this world- of course your mind goes to where is my child."

Duplin County schools confirmed the young student with autism was left on the school bus alone at her school.

District leaders released a written statement about the ordeal Friday afternoon.

In the statement, Superintendent Dr. Austin Obasohan said, "The safety and wellbeing of our students is the highest priority of Duplin County Schools. The school system has procedures in place to ensure that students are properly supervised at all times. If these procedures are not followed, the school system takes swift and appropriate action. State and Federal laws prohibit the school system from discussing confidential student and confidential personnel matters. In light of these legal requirements, the school system cannot comment further at this time."

Despite Thursday's incident, Jaysha Gray said she followed her normal routine and took her child to daycare to be put on the bus to attend school on Friday. She said Friday's driver was the same driver from Thursday when her daughter was left on the school bus alone most of the day.