Revere: Special needs student left in van for hours

REVERE — A bus monitor employed by Revere Public Schools has been placed on administrative leave and a bus driver fired after a student with special needs was left on a van for about four hours.

“It never, ever should have happened,” said School Superintendent Dianne Kelly.

Kelly said she is respecting the family’s wishes and not disclosing the child’s age or the school he attends.

“I can say that it was a young child,” she said.

The child was picked up by a four-person VSP Livery Service van before school on Tuesday. In addition to the driver, there was a monitor on board, who is a Revere Public Schools employee. Saugus-based VSP Livery Service is subcontracted by the district for transportation services for children with special needs.

“For over 18 years, VSP Livery has been dedicated to the health, safety and welfare of our children,” Marc E. Chapdelaine, an attorney representing the company, said in a statement. “(Tuesday), an unfortunate incident occurred.  VSP immediately took appropriate action. Our drivers are fully trained to ensure the safety of our children. The person involved did not follow policies that he was fully trained on and was immediately fired. We are fully cooperating with the City of Revere to understand how we can better serve our community.  We respect the responsibility that comes with driving a school bus, and we are honored to serve the parents and children of our community. Our hearts go out to the family.”

Monitors are placed on transportation vans and buses carrying special needs students based on the needs of the students on the vehicle, said Kelly.

After dropping off the other students, the monitor got off the bus and the driver returned the vehicle to the VSP parking lot in Saugus. Four hours later, the driver returned to the lot to pick the students up from school and realized a student was still on the van.

“The child had fallen asleep and slumped over,” said Kelly. “It is still unacceptable.”

The driver went into his office and told his manager, who got in the van with him and drove to the district’s transportation office, which is located at Revere High School, said Kelly.

The School Department called 911 and a school nurse also evaluated the student and determined he did not need to be transported to the hospital.

“Thankfully, the child was fine,” said Kelly. “He was smiling and laughing. Thank God.

“Thank God it wasn’t January and thank God it wasn’t August. Thank God it wasn’t today — it’s freezing out today. We are very thankful and doing everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

In a letter to parents sent home Wednesday afternoon, Kelly said “any person demonstrating an inability to safeguard children will not be employed by the Revere Public Schools or contracted to work with our kids.”

“This morning, we reviewed safety protocols and transport expectations with all of our town transportation department employees and with all school principals. We have also been in touch with the transportation department employees outside of the district that drive some of our students to school to make sure they have done similar trainings with their employees.”

The incident remains under investigation by Revere Police and the Department of Children and Families and the School District employee remains on paid administrative leave.

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