A Wisconsin bus driver pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child neglect and was sentenced to one year of probation after she allegedly left a boy with Down syndrome unattended on her vehicle, local outlets report.
Travita Terry of Milwaukee was accused of leaving 15-year-old Nicholas Walker unattended on her bus Jan. 12, FOX-6 reported Tuesday. Walker has Down syndrome and requires door-to-door bus rides to and from Riverside High School, according to the outlet.
The boy never made it to school and was eventually found near Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. https://t.co/nqU4dLh7RJ
— FOX6 News (@fox6now) April 25, 2023
His mother, Deborah Smith, said she watched her son get on the bus that morning at around 7:30 a.m., FOX-6 reported. Walker’s teacher allegedly texted her an hour and a half later saying he hadn’t arrived to class yet. (RELATED: Teen With Down Syndrome Attacked And Bullied In Chicago School Bathroom)
“Everything from the top of my head just dropped to my feet,” Smith told WISN of her reaction to the teacher’s text message. “I was devastated. I lost it,” Walker’s father, Roger, added.
After reviewing surveillance footage, the school principal found Walker had not gotten off the bus when it arrived at the school at 8:03 a.m., according to FOX-6.
Terry said Walker had been dropped off at the school with the rest of the students and that he was third to exit the bus, FOX-6 reported. She also said she checked all the bus seats to see if any children were still on the vehicle after drop-off, according to the outlet.
Someone eventually spotted Walker outside the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino and notified police, then stayed with Walker until law enforcement arrived at the scene, FOX-6 reported.
Surveillance footage from the casino showed the school bus arrive and park on West Potawatomi Circle at 8:20 a.m., according to the outlet. Terry allegedly exited the bus at 8:24 a.m. and Walker was seen getting off at 9:08 a.m. He said he had fallen asleep and woke up alone with the bus parked outside the casino, FOX-6 reported.
The school district condemned the driver’s alleged negligence in a statement.
“The district is grateful the student was located safe and sound. Milwaukee Public Schools has a zero-tolerance policy for any driver who may leave a student unattended during their shift. This matter has been reported to the Milwaukee Police Department. The student was able to return to school for the remainder of the day,” the statement reads, according to WISN.