Layton child, 4, left alone on sidewalk after dropped off by bus

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LAYTON -- Every day at about 12:15 p.m., a school bus pulls up outside the Rettenberger home in Layton. But on Tuesday of last week, no one was there to welcome 4-year-old Mason inside.

“They just drove away and left him standing between the sidewalk and the road,” said Mason’s mother, Jacqueline Rettenberger.

She was out running an errand when her son was dropped off by the bus, about a half hour earlier than he normally is.

“When I came home at 11:50 a.m. there he was by himself, just standing there, looking around, kind of thinking about walking down the road,” Rettenberger said.

The special needs student was released early from school because of a change in class schedule within the Davis School District. Rettenberger said she wasn’t aware the bus route would be impacted, nor the treatment of her son.

“I had no idea he was going to be home any earlier,” Rettenberger said. “I think the procedure ought to be for a child that age, or even special education children, they ought to watch them physically walk through that door. There’s no assurance that everything is going to be OK. They need to see that they are safe.”

According to Davis School District spokesman, Chris Williams, that actually is the procedure. It just wasn’t followed.

“All I can say is, I’m sorry, we messed up,” Williams said. “That shouldn’t have happened.”

When transporting pre-school students, bus drivers are supposed to wait until a parent is present before leaving, according to Williams.

“It all whittles down to we had a substitute driver behind the wheel that day, dropped off the little guy, and he shouldn’t have done that,” he said.  “It was unfortunate. It was a mistake. And we’re glad nothing happened.”

While the district does not have plans to take any formal disciplinary action against the driver, officials do intend to review and reiterate their procedures and expectations with staff.

Rettenberger said the bus driver involved did contact her to apologize; however, she is still not convinced enough is being done to ensure her son will arrive home safely in the future.

“They just left him on the side of the road, by himself,” she said. “There’s got to be another procedure, there’s got to be another way to deal with this.”


  • Ae33

    After my special needs child was missed several mornings, resulting in our having to run down the street after the bus when the driver finally stopped a block past our house, I called the Davis county bus depots special education department and complained. His driver was apparently standing right there in the office and was asked while I was on the phone and could hear if she had missed his pickup point that morning and she flat out lied and said no. She’d been doing the same route for several months at this point and had no reason to continually keep missing us. I told the special needs director that I would be pulling my son from the bus from then on because if she wasn’t going to pay enough attention to realize she was already at his stop, I didn’t want to know what type of attention she was paying in traffic in town and I also didn’t want him on a bus with a person who would blatantly lie like that. I drove him myself for the rest of that year. That was the only bad experience with the Davis county buses that we ever had, the rest of the drivers he had until we started homeschooling were wonderful, but some people just don’t belong in that job.

  • Mom27

    Leave it to Davis School District to do something like this it doesn’t surprise me in the least. Davis School District is the most unorganized unprofessional program I have ever seen. I have a special needs child also and have yet to put him on the bus. I just don’t trust them.

  • Jen

    My biggest concern in this is why was there a change in the regular class schedule and the mom didn’t know that he would be home early? Any time there is a change in schedule like that, we receive a phone call, have everything posted at the school, and it’s on the school website. There’s never any confusion about when my kids will be home. The bus driver was definitely out of line for not following procedure, but was there enough communication from the school so this wouldn’t happen in the first place?

    • Tami

      The story was inaccurate in that fact. The older children got out early but the preschool special needs got out the same time they always do. For some reason it effects the time he gets dropped off by about 40 minutes. Unfortunately, it is 40 min earlier than normal, not later.

  • Mike

    Within the last month our bus driver has been late by over 30 minutes dropping of the kindergartner kids on three occasions. Davis school bus district has a policy enforcement issue. I 100% blame poor leadership.

    • Tami

      Because part of the existence of this program is to help these children main stream into the regular classroom by kindergarten or first grade. All last year his parents and grandparents took him and picked him up every day. This year the teacher and the parents decided that part of helping him integrate with the other students was to let him ride the bus. His mother didn’t want to let him but ultimately decided that it would be a growing step toward normalcy.

  • Kim

    This isn’t just the bus’s fault. If the schedule was changed they needed to make sure everyone was informed so this doesn’t happen. I know that in Provo they will not let them off the bus unless they have a parent present until they are in first grade.

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