Update: Preschooler left on Norris bus

By: Megan Palera

It's a frightening situation for any parent.  Friday morning a mom put her son on the Norris School bus and several hours later, found out he was left on it.

Katie Hartling is so upset, she's considering home schooling her kids from now on.  That way she know's their safe.

Hartling's four-year-old son Xander never made it to class at Norris Preschool on Friday because he was left behind on the bus.

“My bus driver didn't take me off the bus,” Xander said.

Xander was strapped into the bus at 7:45 this morning.  It was eventually parked at the bus barn behind the football field near the school.  Problem is, Xander was left on it. 

He finally crawled through the back door at 11:00 this morning and was found trying to get inside the preschool building.  An hour later, Hartling finally got the terrifying call from school.

“I'm freaking out because it didn't really sink in that they did have him.  My brains going, 'What do you mean? I put him on the bus. Where's my son at? He's 4.”

Norris superintendent, John Skretta, says he's thankful Xander is safe, and as a parent, understand the Hartling's concerns.

“We missed a step,” Skretta said.

Norris has 25 routes a day and those buses also transport kids to more than 800 school activities a year.

Skretta says this is the first time a child has been left on a bus, but that once is still too many.  He is actively investigating what went wrong today.

“When we make those determinations, we will hold those employees accountable for fulfilling their job expectations,” Skretta said.  “And certainly, if you are a bus driver, a basic expectation would be that yes, the students are safely transported to and from the anointed destinations.”

KLKN-TV did learn that it was a substitute bus driver who took Xander to school today.  As for having her kids ride the bus again, Hartling says she not sure she's willing to risk it.

Deputies cited 66-year-old bus driver Donald Kroese for misdemeanor child neglect but said he felt horribly about leaving the boy on the bus.  Deputies said he made a mistake and it wasn't intentional.