Students delayed up to 4 hours on buses home at St. Paul Public Schools

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6-year-old Payton Love’s two-mile school bus ride took over four hours on her first day of school at Chelsea Heights Elementary in St. Paul on Tuesday, leaving her family worried sick.

After leaving school, first-grader Payton was supposed to arrive home at 3:30 p.m. but didn’t show up until 7:05 that evening.  Her mom Jesse Love was calling the St. Paul Public School’s main office by 3:45 p.m.

At 4 p.m., the contracted bus transportation company, First Student, had verified Payton was safe but had been put on the wrong bus apparently by her teacher.  From there, the problems seemed to multiply as hours went on.

According to the district, the driver was unfamiliar with the route and couldn’t find the last stop.  Plus, the two-way radio on the bus wasn’t working.  And, at some point the decision was made for the driver to continue to his next scheduled route at Frost Lake Elementary where another 70 students were picked up and dropped off at home -- all while Payton and 14 others kids patiently rode along.

Meanwhile, her family was calling everyone from the principal to the police.

Payton’s mom asked the school if they had any insight on where her child was, “the guy was like ‘well I give up on this situation.’ I’m like, ‘what do you mean you give up?!’”

Payton finally arrived at home around 7:05 that evening, not by a bus, but by a district safety coordinator.

“She was pretty hungry," her grandmother Robin said. "I said ‘were you scared?’ She said ‘No I wasn’t scared but I’m hungry.'"

The district said a total of 125 students were delayed in some way or another. Fifteen of them, including Payton, were delivered home by a district safety coordinator.

“One day does not establish a pattern,” St. Paul Public Schools District spokesperson Toya Stewart Downey said.  “But we are very sorry Payton arrived home much later than she was supposed to and that other students did as well. It’s not the standard that we want in St. Paul Public Schools."