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5-year-old kicked off Waterbury school bus 2 miles from home after driver can’t find home

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WATERBURY--A young boy is thankfully safe after a scary situation occurred when he was being taken home from school Monday.

Monday afternoon a 5-year-old boy was on the school bus headed home from the Margaret M. Generali Elementary School, located in Waterbury near Cheshire's border, but the bus driver could not find his home. When the driver got to the last bus stop on the route, the driver kicked the child off the bus. This bus stop was about two miles from the boy's house.

Credit: Google Maps

Credit: Google Maps

According to the Waterbury Public Schools personnel director Bob Brenker, the boy had on a special bracelet indicating that he should not be dropped off without a parent there to pick him up. All kindergarten and first-grade students are supposed to be met by an adult, according to the bus company.

The boy's mother, Samantha Paneto, spoke to FOX 61 Wednesday night. She said her son was also wearing a name tag with all his information on it, including his address.

His bus stop is steps away from his Waterbury home at the corner of Oldham and Manchester avenues.

The boy wandered to the Cheshire-Waterbury town line, and a Cheshire Police officer spotted him near a construction site near Byam Road. That officer drove him back to Waterbury, and dropped him off with Waterbury Police, who found his parents.

"I would have had a missing child, or worse he could have gotten hit by a vehicle, someone could have kidnapped him, the world we live in today anything could have happened to my son," Paneto said. "I’m very grateful to the police that they saved my sons life."

The driver, who was employed by the Durham School Services bus company but has since been fired, is considered a substitute, but due to the number of bus driver absences the driver worked enough days that he was essentially considered a "regular driver" for the district. However, though he's driven with Waterbury schools for some time, he was new to this bus route.

Durham School Services has been the bus company for the district for three years. Here is a statement from the company:

It is our policy to have kindergartners and first-grade students to be met by an adult, and in this circumstance it did not occur. We are taking this matter very seriously; the driver has been terminated.  Safety measures are in place for drivers with children on board that are met by parents, including annual training prior to school start-up. We also work closely with the district to ensure the students have the appropriate identification bracelets that indicate they must be met by an adult. We are happy that the child was returned to his parents safely and unharmed.

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