Bus driver, attendant fired after 5-year-old forgotten on bus and found alone downtown

MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) – Badger Bus company says they have fired the bus driver and on-board attendant after a 5-year-old was forgotten on a school bus and found alone near Madison’s downtown.

The Madison Metropolitan School District is also investigating after a Badger Bus driver left for the night on April 7 and left the boy on board the bus, according to a report from Madison police.

According to an incident report, a person found him standing by himself near E Rusk Avenue in Madison. Parents had called police to report the boy was never dropped off after he boarded the bus after school, where he attends Lake View Elementary. He remained on the bus after all the stops were made and the bus driver had parked and left for the night, according to the report.

MMSD and Badger Bus are both investigating, police said, and no criminal charges are pending at this time. A spokesperson for MMSD said the district is in close contact with both the family and the bus company to ensure something like this does not happen again.

“To have a child left alone in this way is something no family or student should have to experience. Our contractual procedures with Badger Bus are specifically designed to ensure these kinds of incidents do not happen, and those procedures were not followed,” spokesperson Timothy LeMonds said in a statement. An investigation found no “malicious intent” from the driver.

Co-owner John Meier with Badger Bus said they learned of the incident around 7pm on Wednesday and immediately started an investigation. That resulted in the termination of both the driver and the on-board assistant, Meier told News 3 Now.

“We are deeply saddened and disturbed by this incident and are thankful for the assistance provided by the police.  Our apologies go out to the parents, MSCR staff at Lake View, and the Madison School district for this regrettable incident,” he said in an emailed statement.

Employees go through thorough training for how to properly load and unload students on buses, he said, including post-trip inspections inside the bus after each route and also after returning to base.

“In light of this very unfortunate and regrettable incident, we will be reinforcing our post-trip inspection training through daily communication,” he said.

Badger Bus provides school transportation to the Madison Metropolitan School District, as well as the Verona School District. The company also operates transportation services on routes between Madison, Milwaukee and the Twin Cities.