Superintendent: Preschool student left on Celina schools bus is ‘black eye’ for district

CELINA — (UPDATE @ 6:10 p.m., March 16) -- A preschool student who was left on a school bus in Celina for hours this week “puts a black eye on the school district, on our transportation department,” Dr. Ken Schmiesing, Celina City Schools superintendent, told News Center 7′s John Bedell on Thursday afternoon.

Celina police and Mercer County Children Services are investigating how and why a school bus driver and an aide left the girl on the bus for as many as three hours during the school day Wednesday.

Schmiesing would not clarify exactly how someone came to determine the child was missing.

“There was a call that came in and the principal was then notified,” the superintendent said. “So the principal called out to the bus garage. The assistant bus mechanic is the one who went out to the bus and located her.”

Schmiesing said employees are supposed to check school buses and other transportation vehicles when they have completed their routes. The two investigations are focusing on how well the two employees, who are now on administrative leave, checked the bus or whether it was checked at all.

INITIAL REPORT (4:06 p.m., March 16)

Correction: News Center 7 previously reported that the bus driver and bus aide had been fired, citing a Celina schools statement that they had been “relieved of their duties.” However, Celina City Schools School Superintendent Ken Schmiesing clarified Thursday afternoon that the two employees are on administrative leave at this time pending an investigation.

A bus driver and bus aide have been placed on administrative leave after a preschool student was left unattended on a school bus in Celina on Wednesday.

The student was left unattended for over three hours until the child was located by the district’s assistant bus mechanic, Celina City Schools Superintendent Ken Schmiesing said in a statement obtained by our news partners at WCSM.

The student did not show signs of injury, according to the statement.

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“Upon being notified that the student had been left on the bus, the bus driver and bus aide responsible for the student were relieved of their duties pending an investigation,” Schmiesing said in the statement.

Schmiesing confirmed with News Center 7 that both employees are on administrative leaving pending an investigation.

He also said the district notified Mercer County Children Services.

“There are protocols that are to be followed when a bus is parked, and the driver is leaving the bus after students are on it. Those procedures were not followed and the District will get to the bottom as to why, so that procedures can be put in place so that this does not occur again. The safety of our students is paramount,” the statement continued.

Celina Police Chief Tom Wale confirmed with News Center 7 that there is an investigation into what happened.

“We did receive a report that a child had been accidentally left on a bus after the driver’s route,” Wale said. “The child was found later in good health and returned to the parents.

Once their investigation is complete, the chief said the department will refer the case to the county prosecutor’s office to review possible charges.

News Center 7 will continue updating this story as details become available.

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