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Bus driver fired after Cambridge boy left alone on bus for three hours

Posted by Brock Parker  March 12, 2013 12:26 PM

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The driver that left a 5-year-old Cambridge boy alone on a locked bus in Somerville last Thursday for about three hours has been fired.

Jim Misercola, the director of employee relations for Eastern Bus Co., said the driver, whose name has not been released, was fired Tuesday morning after the company’s investigation into the incident.

“Obviously what happened was very regrettable,” Misercola said Tuesday. “We feel terrible about the event.”

The boy, Reign Dendy, was supposed to be dropped off at the Margaret Fuller House in Cambridge for an afterschool program after being picked up from school.

But when the child’s mother, Tara Dendy, arrived after 5 p.m. last Thursday, the afterschool program informed her that the boy had never arrived.

Jim Maloney, the chief operating officer for Cambridge Public Schools, said the mother called police, and the boy was found locked in the bus in the Eastern Bus Co. bus yard in Somerville around 6:30 p.m.—almost three hours after the bus had parked in the lot.

“We’re incredibly disappointed in the fact that this occurred,” Maloney said.

Misercola said Eastern Bus Co. immediately placed the bus driver on unpaid leave and began investigating. The driver had been on the job for about four years, and Misercola said he was not aware of any previous problems with the employee.

But Misercola said that last Thursday the driver failed to conduct a post-trip inspection of the bus that would have discovered the child around 3:30 p.m.

Maloney said Eastern Bus Co. has been providing school bus service in Cambridge for about 15 years and nothing like Thursday’s incident had ever occurred before, to his knowledge. The company is currently in the third year of a five-year contract with the city.
Maloney said school officials were meeting with the bus company Tuesday to discuss the incident and how to prevent it from happening again. Maloney said the driver was not going to be allowed back on any city school routes, regardless of the discipline administered by the bus company.

Maloney said the school district will also be inquiring about whether a device on the bus that is used to confirm a post-trip inspection has been conducted was operating.

Misercola said the bus was equipped with a Child Check-Mate System that requires a bus driver to walk to the back of a bus and press a button before exiting the bus. If the driver doesn’t press the button and exits the bus, the vehicle’s horn is supposed to sound and the lights will flash until the driver does.

Misercola said the device is not required by state law, but was on the bus that picked up Reign last week. He said the company is now investigating whether the device was working.

But Misercola said the drivers are still required to inspect the bus after a trip, and the company reminds them multiple times each year. He said the company is going to be looking at how it can improve on the required inspections.

--Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

--brock.globe@gmail.com

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