LAKELAND, Fla. -- Forced off a bus several stops early, a mother claims her son ended up having to hitchhike to make it back home.
The driver has been placed on administrate leave following the mishap, according to Polk County Schools Spokeswoman Rachel Pleasant.
The incident happened Tuesday as Melanie Rain's son, 6-year-old Calvin, rode the bus back home for the first time this school year from Southwest Elementary School. Rain waited at the stop for her son during a downpour; but when the bus pulled closer, it never stopped.
"I tried to stop the driver 'cause Calvin didn't get off the bus," Rain said. "She proceeded to drive off."
She said her son had the correct paperwork to indicate to the driver where he needed to get off. However, Calvin got off at the first stop instead of the fourth. When he tried to explain the situation to the driver, Calvin told his mother the driver spoke Spanish and pointed to the door, so he got off.
Calvin walked in a couple directions afterward, Rain said. After a while, he realized he didn't know how to get back home.
Rain says he said: "I put my thumb up, and this lady stopped and helped me."
A woman in a tan van picked up Calvin and dropped him off after he was able to talk out where he lived. Rain's mother was at home at the time; she called her and told her to come home because Calvin had just walked in alone.
He was soaked, crying and exclaimed: "I never want to get back on the bus ever!"
Rain calls the mystery woman her son's "guardian angel." Who knows what could have happened if someone else picked him up, she wondered.
Pleasant said the driver had been with the transportation department since 2004. In a statement, she said, in part:
"We are grateful that our student is safe, and we apologize for any distress this incident brought to him and his family. We will determine whether policies and procedures were followed."
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