Savannah mother wants answers after 6-year-old daughter left on school bus

Published: May. 11, 2023 at 5:57 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A Savannah mom has major concerns after she says her 6-year-old daughter was left on a Savannah-Chatham County school bus at the bus depot.

On Monday, 6-year-old Nari went to school at Henderson Formey Early Learning Center. She usually gets off the bus here around 4:30 p.m., according to her mother Bambi Ponder. But when Ponder’s older son got to the bus stop to pick up his little sister, she wasn’t there. That’s when Ponder realized something wasn’t right.

“I was thinking all kinds of stuff with trafficking and everything going on, I thought somebody could have got her,” Ponder said.

Ponder said she called and texted the bus driver at 5:02 p.m. to let her know Nari was missing but she didn’t get an answer. So, she called the school’s transportation department.

“As I was on the phone with transportation. I got a call from the bus driver from another number, and she was like she has my daughter,” Ponder said.

She said she got that call at 5:17 p.m. and the bus driver told Ponder, Nari was at the bus depot.

“They forgot her on the bus. She was sleeping. The only thing I could think about is my daughter being alone on that bus and no one there for her,” Ponder said.

Ponder said the bus driver offered to take her home in her personal car.

“I told her it was OK to bring her. As I was on the phone with dispatch, they were like that’s not OK, that’s not protocol,” Ponder said.

Nari was dropped off at home at 5:45 p.m., according to Ponder.

She said Henderson Formey staff and Board of Education police are aware of the situation and are pulling surveillance footage to see just how long Nari was left alone on the bus. The situation having a negative impact on Nari who barely wants to talk about it.

“I can tell she was hurt by that. I take my daughter to and from school now because she doesn’t want to ride the bus,” Ponder said. “I want other parents to be aware and stay alert for your children and be alert on the bus driver as well.”

The school system sent us a statement regarding this story. It says, in part, “Our investigation confirms that the child was in fact asleep on the bus and was out of view as the driver finished her route. This is an unfortunate – but rare – occurrence and we have used this opportunity to reinforce the importance of being vigilant in checking seats and engaging with students on the route to ensure no one is missed. SCCSPSS takes the safety of our students in the classroom and on the bus very seriously.”