Parents question bus drop off policy

RIVIERA BEACH, FL (WFLX) On Friday afternoon, Curtis Pithon's step-dad says he arrived at Curtis' usual stop at 20th and Avenue H in Riviera Beach and realized the bus was already gone.

"I was crazy because I didn't know what to do," said Joissaint Joseph.

Joseph called the district's transportation staff, and says they told him his son had spotted someone familiar and was allowed off the bus.

"He has a friendship with everyone. All the time he sees someone, he jumps on you like he knows you for a long time," said Joseph.

What happened to the 5-year-old-boy over the next four hours is murky.

Curtis could not tell me what happened, his father saying he has trouble communicating.

But neighbor, Gary Francois, says he spotted the child a block away from the bus stop, walking alone - towards his house.

"I took his bookbag, to see if he had a phone number in there so I could call his parents, but I didn't see a phone number," said Francois.

The father went to the school, thinking his son might have been returned by the bus.

When he got to Lincoln Elementary, Curtis wasn't there. 

At about 8:00 p.m. did police located the boy with Francios and his sister, and reunited him with his step-dad.

"How lucky we are he found him. He goes this way, and the young kids take him," said Joseph.

We asked the district what their policy is in letting children off the bus.

They pointed us to the bus transportation handbook, which says, "It is the responsibility of parents' to supervise their children after they are discharged from the school bus in the afternoon."

Further, the chief of support operations says that, regardless of age, because of how many dropoffs there are, "Bus drivers can not be responsible for matching every child up with a parent at the bus stop," said Joseph Sanchez.

Curtis' father says that's too relaxed for kindergarteners.

"Five years old, they can not drop him anywhere," said Joseph.

In this case, the bus driver will be disciplined - the district says he did what he was supposed to.

If a child does not recognize anyone familiar, policy dictates that the child be taken back to school.