CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — A 4-year-old boy left on a Carl Junction school bus was found alone and crying shortly before sunset Thursday.
Carl Junction Police Chief Delmar Haase said an employee of Curiosity Corner Learning Center contacted the law enforcement agency after discovering the boy had not arrived as expected.
He has forwarded a report recommending a criminal charge against the Carl Junction school bus driver.
Shea Reynolds, owner of the licensed Joplin daycare that serves children up to age 12, said it was an emotional situation.
“We were very upset the child was not here,” she said.
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The boy, who was not named, was enrolled in an early childhood education program in the Carl Junction district. After school, he rides the bus to the daycare.
Haase said the boy was picked up at 3 p.m. Thursday and found in a locked bus lot at 5:26 p.m.
“We went to the bus lot. The kid was outside the bus, crying,” he said. “We called him over to the fence, got the lot unlocked and reunited him with a parent.”
Haase said the boy was shaken but unharmed.
An investigation by Carl Junction Police showed the boy was sitting four seats behind the bus driver and apparently fell asleep en route to the daycare.
Haase said the driver allegedly completed his route but failed to complete the steps required to make sure no child was left on the bus.
“He was supposed to walk the aisle of the bus and hang a sign on the back door,” he said.
The sign is hung up to indicate that a sweep has been completed and the bus was clear of passengers.
Haase said the sign was found hanging in the back of the bus and the investigation showed that instead of walking the aisle, the driver allegedly exited the bus and opened the back door to hang the sign.
After the investigation, police submitted a report recommending a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child against the school bus driver to the Jasper County prosecutor.
Haase said Monday that no action had yet been taken and the 36-year-old male driver had not been arrested. The News-Leader left a message with the prosecutor’s office, but it has not yet been returned.
The police chief declined to name the bus driver, noting he has not been charged and has no criminal record.
It was unknown Monday if the driver was still employed by the Carl Junction district. Due to the wintry weather, the district did not have class Monday, and no one was answering the phone in the central office.
(Story shared by Springfield News-Leader. Read the original article here.)