Wake County schools say sorry after bus driver takes 12-mile detour for co-worker

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Wake County Public School System is apologizing after parents say they waited for a school bus until nearly 7 p.m. for their kids to get dropped off following after-school activities.

Lynn Gardner contacted CBS 17 about the incident, which occurred Monday.

He went to meet his son at his bus stop at the intersection of Fox Road and Sumner Boulevard near Triangle Town Center. He said the bus normally comes around 5:45 p.m. following his son’s football practice at Rolesville High School.

Following the time change this weekend, it’s dark by then. So, he wanted to make sure his son got home safely walking on Fox Road, which does not have sidewalks that run all the way to their home.

After 6 p.m., he still didn’t see his son and contacted him to find out what was going on. His son told him the bus driver had taken him and the other students to the transportation hub on Rock Quarry Road in Southeast Raleigh about 12 miles from his son’s bus stop.

The bus arrived back near Triangle Town Center around 6:50 p.m., Gardner said. At that point, he got on the bus to ask the driver what had happened.

“She told me she was instructed by her supervisor to take another co-worker to the bus depot yard and then bring the children home,” he said. “I told her, ‘Our children are our first priority.’ And she said, ‘I understand that.’”

Gardner tried contacting WCPSS’s transportation office Monday night and again Tuesday morning. Though he waited on hold for more than half an hour each time, he said he didn’t get to talk to anyone in a position of authority about why this happened.

CBS 17 reached out to the school district, as well. Tuesday afternoon, Gardner said he received a call from the driver’s supervisor apologizing for what happened and said the driver misunderstood her instructions, which were to drop the kids off first. He said the supervisor promised this would not happen again. Lisa Luten, a spokesperson for WCPSS, confirmed that information to CBS 17, and also apologized for what happened.

It made for a very long day for Gardner’s son, who normally gets on the bus at 6:20 a.m.

“That should never be an issue. The children are entrusted to Wake County,” he said. “That’s kind of frustrating, but it’s also not fair because you’re holding our most precious commodity: our children.”

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