Superintendent verifies bus incident, orders alert buzzer systems
Radford school officials confirmed Friday that an 11-year-old boy was left asleep on a school bus on Tuesday, the second day of school.
Kaine Claytor is a sixth grader at Belle Heth Elementary. His mother, Kellie Deal, said that 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 Kaine 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.
Becky Greer, Radford’s superintendent of schools, said that the school system has procedures for checking buses at the end of each route. “We have reviewed our precautionary safety measure procedures and find the safety measure procedures to be appropriate,” Greer said in a press release on Friday. She also said that alarm systems that require the driver to walk to the back of each bus at the end of each route have been ordered for all city school buses not already equipped with alarms. Earlier this week, Greer had said that four buses did not have the alarms. Kaine’s bus was one of those four.
“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,” Kaine’s mother said.
Superintendent Greer echoed that sentiment, stating, “Perhaps this incident will guarantee the safety of all students in the future.”
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.