Monday, July 21, 2014

IU driver faces termination for leaving Bensalem boy in van

Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 

Termination procedures are pending against a suspended Bucks County Intermediate Unit driver who’s accused of leaving a 4-year-old special needs child alone, strapped into a car seat, in a school van for 2½ hours, an I.U. spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Bristol Township police anticipate the district attorney’s office will have their police report by Friday and will decide if criminal charges will be filed against the driver, Lt. Guy Sava said. There was no indication Wednesday when the DA’s decision will be made.
The Bensalem boy was treated for dehydration at Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol Township and sent home a few hours later, officials said.
The child left on the van was one of five special needs preschoolers picked up around 9 a.m. Tuesday by the unidentified driver and taken to the Friendship Circle Center on Emily Avenue in Bristol Township, according to police and an I.U. spokeswoman. After dropping off the kids, the driver drove the 10-passenger van to her home, which is allowed under I.U. policy, officials said.
The driver, who has worked for the I.U. for roughly 14 months, didn’t realize the boy was in the van until after she returned to the center around noon to pick up the other kids, according to a preliminary investigation. The driver asked where the fifth child was and a center employee said the driver had only dropped off four kids, authorities said. The driver and center staff found the boy in the back row of the van, I.U. spokeswoman Joann Perotti said Tuesday. He was immediately removed and given liquids.
Intermediate Unit staff met with the driver Wednesday, but couldn’t discuss what she told them about the incident because it is a personnel matter, Perotti said.
Preliminary findings by the I.U. indicate the driver didn’t follow the agency policy that requires all drivers to check the vehicle after students are dropped off, Perotti said.
The spokeswoman said Wednesday the I.U. hasn’t discussed ending its contract with the Friendship Circle Center, a BARC Development Services program that serves children ages 2 to 5 with special needs. The I.U. transports 20 students to the center regularly during the summer, Perotti said.
However, the I.U. will determine when BARC employees realized the boy was missing and review the steps they took after that. Perotti said she expected to receive a copy of BARC’s attendance policy before the end of the business day Wednesday.
At 11 a.m. Tuesday, the temperature was in the low 80s in Doylestown, the closest weather station in Bucks County, according to the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey. There’s no indication of how hot it was inside the van when the boy was found.
“The Intermediate Unit does not tolerate conduct inconsistent with this policy and our core values, which stress safety for all children,” Perotti said in a statement issued Wednesday. “We regret that this happened. Transporting precious children each day to and from school requires careful planning and coordination, keeping student safety at the forefront. This incident was an exception and not at all typical of our staff.”

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