72ºF

6-year-old girl wanders Waterford neighborhood after school bus mix-up

Bus driver says girl walked into her home

WATERFORD, Mich. – A mistake at a school in Waterford left a confused 6-year-old girl wandering around her neighborhood alone.

The little girl made it home safely thanks to an alert neighbor, but her mother is very upset about the incident. She doesn't understand why her first-grader was allowed to get on the bus in the first place.

"My kid is 6 years old and a little girl," Stephanie Rice said.

Rice said she can't pick her daughter up from school because of her job. The 6-year-old is set up to go to aftercare at Haviland Elementary School every day.

The girl isn't supposed to take the bus home because there's nobody home to meet her.

But on Monday, the girl wanted to take the bus home. Her school paperwork said Rice would have to give permission for her daughter to get on the bus.

Next thing Rice knew, a neighbor had her daughter after she got on the bus and was wandering the street alone in tears.

"Are you kidding me?" Rice said. "What do you mean you have my daughter? She's supposed to be in child care. She's never to take the bus home. She doesn't have permission to take the bus home."

The Waterford School District said the girl insisted she was getting on the bus home and two staff members reminded her that she wasn't supposed to take the bus. But the girl still got on the bus.

On her street, the district said the bus driver watched the girl enter her home and drive off.

The principal apologized for the incident, but Rice is still shaken up. She said she can't be in two places at once, so she needs the precautions put in place at school to work for her daughter.

"She's 6 years old," Rice said. "You hear about it all the time with the human trafficking and the child molestations and the kidnappings. My daughter is 6."

The district said it will review its policies and procedures with the staff at the school to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Only kindergartners are required to have somebody meet them when they get off the bus, the school district said. 

Sign up for ClickOnDetroit breaking news alerts and email newsletters


About the Authors: