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Mother says daughters’ safety was in jeopardy because of school transportation mix up

CORDOVA, Tenn. — Tamara Cox is furious. She says she went to pick her 6 and 7-year-old daughters up at a Cordova daycare late Monday, but they weren't there.

"So, I'm literally freaking out at this point, because I didn't know where my daughters were," Cox said.

She says she called Dexter Elementary, where her girls go to school, but the principal told her they weren't there either. So, she raced over to make sure.

"I arrive at the school minutes later after I get off the phone with him."

She started calling her neighbors after that and says one of them found her girls next door playing at a friend's house not far from the bus stop.

"Like, it was the biggest sigh of relief," Cox said.

She says they were let off the bus even though no parent was waiting for them. If true, that violates Shelby County Schools policy, because her daughters are too young to be dropped off alone.

"It really upsets me and it scares the living crap out of me, because they are little girls and they're so many creeps out there. Anything could have happened to my daughters."

Cox says her daughters usually ride a van to daycare after school everyday, but last week was different because her schedule changed. She says she called Dexter about it.

"I gave them very clear instructions," she said.

She claims she told staff her daughters would ride a regular bus all week and go back to the daycare van afterwords. She says it went fine until Monday when her girls were supposed to go back to the van, but instead were put on a regular bus.

"Apparently there's a lack of communication within that school staff."

There was clearly a lack of communication somewhere, but Shelby County Schools claims Cox never told the staff about changing back to the daycare van. The district says the mix up caused confusion at dismissal but Cox maintains her instructions were clear.

At this point, there's no way to verify who's to blame for the communication mix up. But we know Shelby County Schools' policy was violated if Cox's daughters were dropped off alone.

SCS sent a statement a day after our story aired, saying the driver was a substitute who did not follow the rules.

"After reviewing the incident at Dexter ES we have learned the Durham driver who dropped off the KK and 1st grade students was a substitute. The driver did not follow SCS protocol which states: students in grades K through 1st are required to be supervised by an adult parent or guardian when delivered to the bus stop. These students will not be allowed to exit a school bus without a parent, guardian, approved adult, or a sibling 11 years or older present to receive the student. We have addressed the issue with Durham and appropriate action will be taken. We have also shared this update with the family and will continue work closely with Durham to ensure all policies are followed."

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