Driver, aide face charges after child left on Palm Beach County - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Driver, aide face charges after child left on Palm Beach County School bus

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A driver and bus attendant face neglect charges after a child was left behind on a Palm Beach County school bus earlier this month.

The second grade student from J.C. Mitchell Elementary was left on the bus after the morning route and found by a mechanic sometime in the afternoon on Oct. 12.

The district said the child was checked immediately and received fluids but did not need any medical attention.

The attendant, Carmen Zow, has been with the district since 2006 and is under arrest.

The driver,  Claudette Sylvain, was hired in August. She was fired immediately after the incident. A spokesperson for the school district said Thursday that because of a personal issue, Sylvain made an agreement to turn herself in.  However, by midnight Friday, Sylvain was not in custody.

"It's difficult as a Superintendent to see an employee be arrested, but unfortunately when you make this kind of decision you need to be held accountable," said Dr. Robert Avossa, Superintendent of the Palm Beach County School District.

A police report says because of that negligence, the boy was left alone on the bus for about five hours. The 7-year-old boy's father told WPTV by phone that his son is too traumatized to return to school.

"When he sees a bus in the street, he gets scared. He turns his face," said Eddi Guevara in Spanish during a phone interview.

Sylvain and Zow were aware the boy has down syndrome and is not able to communicate. Guevara says he is glad the School District and Police have taken action against them.

"They have to take responsibility for what they did. Obviously, I would never wish this upon anyone, but this is how things happened," added Guevara.

"What happened to this student was completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated, which is why I asked School District Police to investigate and determine whether criminal charges were warranted," said Superintendent Robert M. Avossa, Ed.D., in a news release. "Our drivers are trained on proper procedures before and after every trip. The School District Police investigation confirmed that those basic checks were not conducted."

The district fired Sylvain. It said Zow has been temporarily reassigned and could face termination.

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