NEW HAVEN -- New Haven police charged a school bus driver who they say left two special needs students on a bus.
Police say they were called to 674 Woodward Ave to check on the welfare of the students around 12:15 p.m. Thursday. Police say one of the students was a 16-year-old who called his mother, saying he was locked on the school bus after the driver left them there. The teen's mother was able to track down her son's location through his phone. When she found the bus, she called police.
According to police, the bus was not running, and had tinted windows which were closed. Police say the only fresh air would have come from a slightly opened driver's side window. The outside temperature Thursday was 90 degrees, and there was a heat advisory in place due to both the heat and humidity.
Police say the students were alert, and able to walk off the bus. According to the time stamp on the bus camera, the driver parked the bus at 11:44 a.m. which had the students alone on the bus for at least a half hour.
The second student was a 17-year-old girl who was non-verbal. A New Haven officer was able to track down her father, and bring him to the scene.
There were no obvious signs of physical illness or injury to either of the teens, but EMT crews were called to the scene to check them out.
The 16-year-old boy had autism, and the 17-year-old girl had multiple health disorders. She was later taken to Yale New Haven CHildren's Hospital where she was later released.
Police were able to track down the driver, identified as Marilena Monroy, 53, of New Haven. She told police she was unaware there were children left on the bus. She said she drove home after she thought all the students had been dropped off.
Monroy was arrested and charged with two counts of risk of injury to children. officials from the New Haven Board of Education said there were several clear violations of protocol committed by Monroy. The bus company is cooperating with the investigation.
New Haven Public Schools COO Will Clark said in a statement that leaving a bus with students on it "is an unacceptable breach of training and protocol."
"Leaving the vehicle with students on it is an unacceptable breach of training and protocol," said New Haven Public Schools. "The expectation of the district is that these protocols are followed every time on every run. Anything short of that is unacceptable as a breach of the contractual duty and obligations of safety."
Friday evening, a day after the incident, New Haven Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Carol Birks released the following statement:
As Superintendent for New Haven Public Schools, student safety is our top priority. Safe transportation of students is a critical element of safety ,and it is my expectation that all safety protocols be followed with complete fidelity every day by every driver as our students are transported to and from school and school related activities. On September 6, 2018 an unacceptable breach of established protocols occurred and two students were left unattended on a school bus. School Officials, New Haven Police Department, the Department of Children and Families and the First Student Bus Company responded to the scene."
“At this time we are aware that the New Haven Police Department has arrested the driver involved in this incident. We are working with all agencies to establish facts and support all layers of this investigation. “
“Yesterday I visited the impacted families to express my concern for the students who were involved in this incident and to personally confirm their safety and well-being. It is the expectation of New Haven Public Schools that all bus safety protocols are followed daily to safeguard our students and expect that First Student will honor its contractual duty and obligation to uphold those safety procedures.”