Some area parents are furious after they say they caught an area bus driver on camera putting a child in danger.
"He was telling me Mama I was scared because all I wanted to do was get off the bus. When she closed the door I thought she was kidnapping me because all the other kids were off the bus," says Katrina Roberson.
The video clearly shows the driver taking off while Roberson's 7-year-old son is sitting on the steps of the bus, leaning on the door crying but does that video clip tell the whole story?
"He was crying. He was really hysterical. I was like if she drives off this door could fly open and this child could fall out," says Dontre Espree who shot the video of the school bus driver driving away with the first grader sitting on the steps.
"Why would she take my child? He was in fear for his life," says Roberson. The kids were being dropped off Monday after school from Holmquist Elementary School in Alief ISD. Espree says he was videotaping because his Kindergartner had an incident with a different bus driver Friday.
Alief ISD allowed me to watch video that was captured from a camera rolling inside the bus. In the "Friday incident" the videotape shows the bus driver telling a woman she can't allow Espree's son to get off the bus because the woman was not on the list of people authorized to pick up the 6-year-old. That's the policy. A Kindergartner can not be let off the school bus unless an adult authorized to accept him or her is waiting. On the tape the bus driver tells the woman she will have to take the Kindergartner back to the school. She asks the 6-year-old to sit down, he does and she drives away.
On the videotape from inside the school bus on Monday several women let the substitute bus driver know she is taking too long to let the kids off the bus. The driver is, one by one, asking the kids what grade they are in, allowing the other kids off and keeping the Kindergartners to the side. As she checks the names of the waiting adults to her list she allows the Kindergartners off the bus, as well. The adults are frustrated by the amount of time it's taking and when the last student is off the bus one child says he left his jacket. The driver walks to the back of the bus and goes back to the door telling the adults there aren't any jackets on the bus and she closes the door. The adults insist the first grader check for himself and one woman is seen trying to open the door. The driver opens the door, the boy gets on the first step of the bus, the adults are still yelling and the driver closes the door with the boy inside. The bus driver radios to dispatch saying she doesn't feel it's safe to open the door again. She sounds afraid and seems nervous. She asks the 7-year-old to sit in a seat and she's telling him she'll take him to safety.
"She did what she felt was right and we feel it was the right thing for her to do. She called for help, informing dispatch she didn't feel it was safe to open the door. The whole time she's talking to the student and telling him she's taking him to safety," says Alief ISD Spokesperson Susan Castro. The first grader's mom arrived at the bus stop shortly after the bus drove away.
It appears the problems at this stop began because there is an after school program for the kids at the apartment complex. Parents pick up their kids from the leasing office after they leave work. Many parents have authorized the apartment manager to pick up their child from the school bus but they haven't done so in writing. So the manager isn't listed with the school district. Castro says there appears to be a breakdown in communication. The district is planning a meeting with the parents.