OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. -- A Mid-South mom is demanding answers after she says her 5-year-old son was dropped off at the wrong bus stop on the first day of school blocks from his home.
The boy’s mother, Carolyn Shappley, said her son had to flag down a stranger for help.
It was his first day of kindergarten – a little scary for any kid – but Benjamin Shappley's first-day jitters quickly turned to panic last Thursday when his bus driver left him in a neighborhood he didn't recognize, even after his mom said he told the driver he didn’t know where he was.
"About 3 o’clock I was getting kind of nervous, but I was just going to wait," Shappley said.
After waiting at the correct bus stop for more than 30 minutes, Shappley finally found out about the mix-up when she got a phone call from Olive Branch Elementary’s principal, explaining what happening and saying she had an address where Benjamin could be picked up.
"So, I’m kind of freaking out a bit," she said. "I’m like, 'What do you mean you have an address? What do you mean, who has my son?'"
Shappley said that bus driver dropped Benjamin off about a quarter mile from home.
That's when a stranger found him wandering around in the middle of the street and called the school.
"She was like, 'Oh my goodness I’m so sorry. I found him in the middle of the street,'" Shappley said. "'He was upset, he was crying, he just kept saying, 'I need to find my mom.'"
She said her son told the bus driver that wasn’t his stop and that he didn’t know how to find his house, but she sent him off the bus anyway.
"She said, 'Just go down there and you’ll find it,'" Shappley said. "And judging by the direction he ran, she pointed him in the wrong direction.'"
A mistake she says could have been prevented if the driver had checked Benjamin’s bus card, which listed his home address and bus stop.
"I just don’t feel like she should be a bus driver," she said. "These are people’s children. These are lives."
Shappley filed a complaint with the Desoto County School’s transportation department, and tells WREG the transportation director called the mistake an ‘oversight’ and assured her it would be taken care of.
But by the next morning, Shappley called back and found out officials still hadn’t even spoken to the bus driver about the incident.
"I feel like it should be taken seriously," she said. "And I feel like since my son was not abducted and he didn’t get hit by a car, that it’s not being viewed as serious, and it is."
Shappley said the district's transportation director told her there were four or five similar incidents on the first day of school.
WREG asked school officials for the name of the driver, her level of experience and what was being done to prevent this from happening again, but they wouldn’t answer those questions.
In a statement Friday morning, the district’s Director of Communications, Katherine Nelson, said:
“Desoto County Schools deeply regrets this error. The transportation department corrected the situation and has reached out to the parent to ensure that all concerns have been resolved.”
But Shappley said as long as that driver is on her son's route, he won't be getting back on the bus.