PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Fifty minutes passed by before a Portsmouth mother found out where her son was, why his bus was delayed and why parents weren’t notified about the delay.
Brittany Matesig says she’s used to her first-grader’s bus being late, but after 50 minutes and no word about where her son Lucas was recently one day after school, she began to get nervous.
“All these school shooting threats really freaked me out, ’cause I see other kids walking from the school, but not as many as usual and I don’t know if it was ’cause it was later in the day,” she said. “But I got scared because I didn’t know where he was. I didn’t know what was going on.”
Her son had an Apple GPS air-tag in his backpack so she could see he was still at his school, Simonsdale Elementary.
No one picked up the phone at the school and she eventually got a ride from someone to go pick him up after finally reaching someone from the transportation department.
But as she pulled up to the school, the bus left and school administrators said they could not stop the bus for her to pick up her son.
The bus beat her back to her son’s bus stop and released him without her being there.
She says he was wandering the block, knocking on cars looking for her when she spotted him.
In a statement to 10 On Your Side, Portsmouth Public Schools says situations like this don’t happen often.
They said they had numerous bus delays that day and administrators were busy on the phones trying to answer calls from families about where their children were.
Still, they said what happened that day was an “anomaly.”
They said, in part, parents who’d like to pick up their child from school can do so by producing the requisite identification.
However, school buses are not stopped once they’ve started their route to have a student released.
For Matesig, she says she just wishes the district communicated better to parents about busing delays.
Her son has special learning needs and she says he was scared after the experience.
After seeing what happened, she decided to homeschool him to better protect him.
“I knew he was going to be safe,” she said. “I knew he was going to be with me and I knew I wasn’t going to have to chase him down. It was easier to sit there and print off lesson plans that’re accredited online and spend my days here with him.”
Portsmouth Public Schools wants to remind parents to utilize that bus tracking app, where you can find where your child’s bus is if something like this were to happen to your child.