7-year-old child with special needs left on school bus alone

7-year-old Ra’Mel Johnson and his mother Jasmine Flowers are counting their blessings Monday after a taxing day that started with Johnson, a vulnerable first grader with special needs, getting on his school bus at 7:50 a.m.

Nearly three hours later, the principal at Lucey Laney Elementary called Jasmine to hell her he was left on the school bus.

Apparently, after Johnson got on the bus, he fell asleep. When he woke up, he was inside an empty bus at the Transportation Services garage, about three miles from his school.

“He remembers waking up and being scared because he was alone on the bus,” said Mauri Friestleben, the principal of Lucy Craft Laney Community School.

Johnson somehow managed to get out of the bus and wandered around the garage.

“He found his bus driver in the garage and his bus driver brought him back to the school,” Friestleben added.

“When he walked into the school he was crying, he was hungry and he kept telling the principal that he pressed the button to get off the bus,” she added.

In a statement, a spokesman for the district said, “Standard protocol for all bus drivers is to check the bus for any students before exiting.”

“He was lucky to know how to get off the bus,” she said. “Some children are so disabled that they’re not able to.”

Johnson rides on a bus for special needs students.

“You see my son get on the bus every morning and you didn’t pay attention to know that he was still on that bus?” asked Flowers.

Even worse, Flowers says Johnson was also left at the wrong drop-off at the beginning of the school year.

“I was so upset,” she added. “I told them you know, you get a pass this time, but next time I’m taking action.”

She counted on the driver to keep a close eye on her son.

“You just can’t play with people’s kids,” Flowers said. “You can’t.”

Here is the full statement from Minneapolis Public Schools:

We share concerns about this incident and are investigating what happened and why. There were certainly transportation challenges with this morning’s weather, but standard protocol for all bus drivers serving Minneapolis Public Schools students is to check the bus for any students before exiting. While we cannot go into detail because of data privacy laws, we do apologize again to the family and want them to know we take this very seriously. The driver is on administrative leave pending an investigation.