Radford school officials had no comment yesterday on news reports that an 11-year-old boy was left asleep on a school bus for over four hours on Tuesday, as investigation of the matter continues.
Becky Greer, Radford’s superintendent of schools, said that the school system has procedures for checking buses at the end of each route. She said some of the city’s school buses have an alarm system that forces drivers to do a walk-through before leaving after their shift.
Kaine Claytor is a sixth grader at Belle Heth Elementary. According to his mother, Kellie Deal, Tuesday started out like a typical school day for Kaine. He caught the bus near his Second Street home. He fell asleep during the ride. No classmates woke him up, nor did anyone notice he was still on the bus, not even the bus driver.
Deal said he woke up in the bus at the school system’s transportation lot on Wadsworth Street.
Kaine would eventually find his way back home, walking three miles. Deal said she had turned off her phone while taking a nap and wouldn’t have heard it even if he had found a way to call.
“I blame both the bus driver and my son for what happened, but I do not hold ill will against anyone. It’s just something that happened. Thank God he’s safe and managed to find his way home,” she said.
It is not known whether Kaine’s bus was equipped with an alarm.
In Montgomery County, a recent demonstration by a driver trainer showed how the county’s alarm system works. Russell Altizer said once the ignition system is turned off, a timer begins and the driver must walk to the back of the bus and reset the emergency door, thus turning the alarm off.
“If they don’t do that, the bus horn will sound and lights flash,” Altizer said.
“Typically when a driver walks to the back of the bus, he would check every seat for a child or items left behind.”
Although some states require child check devices on school buses, Virginia does not. Some states have also enacted legislation that makes leaving children behind on buses a formal offense.
In addition to alarms, some school systems also have procedures for placing signs in bus windows to indicate that off duty buses have been checked and are empty.
Deal hopes all the Radford buses can be equipped with the alarm system. “They’re needed, and I surely don’t want to see this happen again.”
Her son, Kaine and his siblings, rode the bus on Wednesday without incident.